Blogs in this series

Life in Culebrón is a disconnected series of pieces about the banal and ordinary of everyday life in an inland Alicante village seen from my very British perspective.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Benjamin Franklin again

A couple of years ago the local weekly newspaper - El Canfali - disappeared from the newsagents. One of the first victims of the hard financial  times I suppose. El Cabeço, the erstwhile monthly magazine produced by Pinoso Town Hall went missing after February 2010 and only two editions have been printed since then so my news and information resources rather dried up. It's true that there are Internet sources but I don't find them as accessible. Grey hair related I suppose.

Culebrón is a part of Pinoso and Pinoso was a very rich town. The huge local marble quarry provided 85% of the Town Hall's total income. Stone extraction and the secondary industries associated with it were also a major source of employment. The local politicians found themselves in the perfect position. They had money rolling in and no need to upset the voters by raising money through taxation. No wonder we had some splendid facilities.

The marble quarry has been hit hard by the collapse of the building boom Worldwide. The money tap was turned off and lots of people lost their jobs.

By all accounts it took the local politicians a long time to come to terms with the idea of making cuts in local services or increasing their income through increased taxation. The debt piled up. It was about that time that my information sources went South too. Reliable information was replaced by gossipy stories passed around the expat network.

I knew there were going to be local tax increases but I wasn't sure at what sort of percentages. I still don't but I did get my first round of local tax bills today. The car tax was still a very reasonable 50€ but the rubbish collection charge has shot up by about 70% and our water was nearly five times more costly than the same bill last year. Mind you the water is on a metered supply so it could be estimated bills catching up with us or that we've been thirstier and cleaner over the last few months.

Nonetheless the annual car tax, annual rubbish collection and six month water bill still all came in below 250€. The same bill back in the UK would have had me whooping for joy.

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