THE Mandaue City Council passed on first reading last week a P230.948-million supplemental budget, its first this year, to pay for senior citizens’ benefits, road maintenance and other projects.

The council will again take up the proposal this week, with recommendations from the committee on appropriations and finance, and may approve the budget within the month if no major objections are raised.

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The proposed budget includes P74.4 million for “other programs and projects,” which the previous council argued about because the opposition questioned the use of the amount for job-order workers.

They had said these workers are a “political army,” but other City Hall officials explained these workers do basic services like collecting garbage or supervising traffic, and removing them would cripple operations.

Prepared by City Budget Officer Lamberto Marababol, with Mayor Jonas Cortes’s approval, the supplemental budget includes P28 million for the city’s 14,000 senior citizens; P21.6 million for the purchase of garbage trucks; P20.7 million for heavy equipment and construction; P14 million to buy various vehicles; and P10 million for road maintenance.

The supplemental budget also includes P9 million for automation and tax mapping, including a system that will connect remote offices and barangay halls to City Hall.

Cortes earlier explained such a network will allow residents of all 27 barangays to ask about tax requirements, without having to go to City Hall.

Majority Floor Leader Diosdado Suico explained that next session, July 21, the committee on appropriations, budget and finance under Councilor Beethoven Andaya will report on the proposed budget.

The budget could be approved on second reading as early as July 28, Suico added, and the proposed transactions pursued by Aug. 4.

In its first two weeks, the council has also settled its division of committees. Some councilors head as many as four committees, while at least two legislators were not assigned any.

Vice Mayor Glenn Bercede, the council’s presiding officer, described it as a collective decision.

Councilors Editha Cabahug and Emmarie Ouano-Dizon were named vice chairpersons of the committee on human rights and committee on foreign relations, respectively. The two won office under the Nagkahiusang Mandauehanon party, while Bercede and eight other councilors ran under Team Mandaue.

Dizon said her not being a committee chairperson will not diminish her role as a legislator. “I’m still studying this,” added the daughter and former executive secretary of then mayor Thadeo Ouano.

Of the eight administration legislators, Councilors Beethoven Andaya and Nenita Layese head the most number of committees, at four apiece.

Bercede is chairman of the committee on youth and sports.

Association of Barangay Councils President Jovita Tuela Ouano, who is with the administration, heads the committee on barangay affairs.

Suico is the majority floor leader and chairman of three committees. Dizon is the minority floor leader.