Disparity Between Income Versus Investment Per District Raises Controversy

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For years, members of the communities of Nosara and Samara have voiced grievances that the Municipality of Nicoya does not invest back into the communities an amount corresponding to the income generated by these districts, but hard data to back these claims was lacking. Now efforts are being made to gather this data.

Preliminary data obtained by The Voice seems to confirm these claims, at least in the case of Nosara. According to a report from the accounting department of the municipality of income per district from real estate taxes between 1996 and 2013, Nicoya generated the most income, followed by Nosara and then Samara, although the amount generated by Nicoya was about 75% more than what was generated by Nosara and about 120% more than what was generated by Samara.  

However, a report from the Technical Unit of Roadway Development of investments in roadways per district during 2012-2013, only 22,386,943 colones (about $44,774) were invested in Nosara, compared to 107,681,210 colones ($215,362) invested in Nicoya. Of all the canton’s districts, only one other district received less attention to their roads (Belen de Nosarita).

The few projects that were executed for Nosara during this timeframe include contracting heavy machinery to construct a drainage system in the route from Nosara-Plaza Nosara at the Ostional-Nosara Plaza intersection; contracting machinery to install a drainage system in Santa Marta and Los Angeles; and buying materials for repairing the bridge over the Nosara River. These materials were delivered to the Nosara Integral Development Association (ADIN). Also contracts were signed for a project of 8,136,000 colones ($16,272) for roadwork and cleaning of ditches and shoulders along several routes in Nosara and Garza-Delicias.

In the case of Samara, 51,881,400 colones ($130,763) were invested, which is approximately half of what was invested in Nicoya, more in line with the fact that Samara generates half of what Nicoya generates. Projects in Samara focused on the route from Matapalo to Santo Domingo, as well as the road from Terciopelo to Chinampas, including materials for the construction of bridges along this route. 

In Nicoya, many projects were undertaken, including the purchase of materials for a bridge over the Rio Grande in Barrio San Martin and a bridge over Potrero River between Casitas and Hondores, as well as roadwork on routes to Pedernal, Nambi, La Esperanza, San Martin and Curime-Pilas Blancas.

In April 2013, a coalition of 13 organizations in Nosara, Samara and Ostional (district of Cuajiniquil, in the canton of Santa Cruz) formally created the Asociacion Pro Cantonato de la Costa (Association Pro Coastal Canton) in an effort to unite the three districts to seek legislation to create a separate canton. However, the effort is pending the collection of solid data to support the claim that the municipal government has neglected the districts.

Marcos Avila, syndic for the district of Nosara, reported that the effort is on hold pending the collection of data to later resume efforts when they are better informed and can demonstrate that the Municipality of Nicoya is not fulfilling its responsibility to Nosara.

Nonetheless, Roberto Leiva, lawyer with Facio & Cañas, researched legal obligations related to the payment of property taxes per district at the request of The Voice and concluded: “There is no law that obligates the destination of part of the taxes collected to the communities in which they are generated. The Municipal Council has the freedom to define the destination of the taxes, although with some limitations. For example, no more than 10% can go to administrative costs, 3% should go to the National Registry and 1% to an organism of the government called the Organism of Technical Normalization.”

For its part, in September of 2013 the Nosara Civic Association initiated a study to collect and analyze governmental data, including taxes and fees paid to the municipality and the benefits received in return from Nicoya and San Jose, in an effort to better understand the local situation. The study is being carried out by the Center for Responsible Travel, a non-profit research institute with offices in Washington, DC and at Stanford University and with decades of experience in Costa Rica.