The Nicoya Red Cross will receive emergency calls from Santa Cruz, Hojancha, Nosara, Nandayure and Hojancha due to a process of restructuring of offices nationwide.
The change will be going into effect in about six months, so the change is expected to happen in late November or early December.
This was confirmed by Luis Adolfo Luna, administrator of the regional Red Cross, during the Santa Cruz Municipal Council session on Tuesday, May 12th.
Luna was invited to attend the council by the council members, who were worried about rumors that the Santa Cruz headquarters would be moved to Nicoya.
“We are not going to Nicoya, but while Santa Cruz is not in the red, the Red Cross is facing an economic crisis nationally,” Luna said.
Luna explained that the Santa Cruz branch has a deficit of ¢45 million ($84,900) per year. However, this could be resolved if the Costa Rican Social Security Fund would clear the ¢108 million ($203,775) debt for ambulance services.
The administrator explained that the organization is in crisis nationwide, stemming from a modification of the traffic law that went into effect under the government of Laura Chinchilla since it stipulated that 15% of all traffic fines would go to the Red Cross. However, now they only receive 5%.
In light of the Red Cross’s uncertain future, Mario Moreira, financial director for the Municipality of Santa Cruz, explained that the municipality could create a special contribution (a sort of tax) that is processed through Coopeguanacaste electricity bills and not by a municipal tax.
“Nobody likes to have their electricity shut off. When someone shuts off their electricity, they run to pay the bill, whereas we have to run around to get people to pay municipal taxes. If ¢200 colones (about 40 cents) per family is charged, the Red Cross could receive ¢9 million (about $17,000) a month from Santa Cruz,” Moreira commented.
Following the proposal, the president of the council, Roger Sanchez, formed a commission to develop a proposal, composed of the financial director, the council’s legal adviser, community members, members of the Red Cross and council members.
In addition, the council members agreed to request an audience with the national Red Cross Board of Directors to make a commitment to leave the Santa Cruz headquarters alone and to show them the financial aid project.