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council urged to adopt mines view building rates as vendors continue to haggle

BAGUIO CITY – Mayor Mauricio Domogan on Monday urged the city council to decide on the rental rates for the newly constructed Mines View Park Multi-purpose Building here even as prospective lessees continue to haggle for lower fees.
The mayor said the city has considerably reduced its proposed rates in deference to the vendors’ appeal and has given ample time to study what is reasonable for both parties.
“We need to fast-track the approval of the rental rates for us to already make use of the building,” the mayor said.
The city council committee on market, trade and commerce will present anew the proposal to the body after holding yet another consultation with the vendors last Wednesday.
Councilor Peter Fianza who took over from committee chair Councilor Perlita Rondez facilitated the hearing where vendors reiterated their appeal to further reduce the rates saying the vending areas are relatively small and that the city should consider the five-month lean month period in the rental scheme.
They also questioned the city’s bases in computing the return of investment (ROI) with the inclusion of government facilities like the barangay hall, day care center and health center in the building along with other items on security and maintenance which they felt were unnecessary and which they said were included as basis in computing the rental rates.
Supervising administrative officer Severina De Leon of the city budget office said the city used the standard bases in the computations of the ROI and the rental schedule.
De Leon clarified that the government facilities were excluded in the computation of the value of the building and the rental rates. She said items being questioned on security, maintenance and operations were not included based on whim but on management requirements deemed appropriate by the city government for such a commercial venture.
City budget officer Leticia Clemente said the vendors should understand that the building is owned by the city government and as such, the city has the prerogative to set the terms for its operations.
While the city has been charitable enough to absorb the vendors in the venture and help them maintain their livelihood to the point of heeding their pleas and reducing the fees, the city should maintain it as a business venture to recoup its investment and generate revenue for its operations, she added.
As a compromise, Councilor Betty Lourdes Tabanda suggested that the vendors agree a one-year trial period using the latest reduced rates where after a year that the rates indeed proved exorbitant then they can propose for another reduction.
A provision for lean-month rates will also be considered, as suggested during the hearing.
Fianza is expected to present the concerns raised during the hearing before the city council soon.
The body’s attempt to adopt the rates ended in a stalemate recently leaving committee chair Councilor Perlita Rondez exasperated. Rondez steered the negotiations holding a series of public hearings with the vendors and came up with a schedule of rates lower by almost 40 percent than the original rates pegged by the Local Finance Committee. The rates were approved on second reading by the city council only to be questioned again when they were presented for approval on third reading.
The proposed monthly rental fees range from P1,550 to P3,500 after two rounds of reduction.
As per the proposed guidelines in stall allocation, the city will give priority to the 73 legitimate members of the Mines View Open Market Vendors Association while the remaining stalls will be awarded to other legitimate stallholders listed in the Memorandum of Agreement between the city and the vendors.
The building which cost P50 million was conceived to solve the vending problem that hounded the Mines View Park and put back order in the area in the hope of reclaiming its status as a park and favorite tourist hub. – A Refuerzo

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