Portimão hands €440,000 of its million-euro tax grab to firemen

Portimão council has announced it is channelling €440,000 of the money it has raised from its million-euro civil protection tax to fund the local fire department.

The deal was made official with the signing of an agreement on Friday (January 23) between Portimão mayoress Isilda Gomes and the president of the Portimão firefighter association Álvaro Bila.

Months ago, the council told the Resident that the fire department needed “roughly €400,000” to make ends meet. The extra €40,000 is designed “to help with everyday costs and to encourage investments”.

These are understood to include a new ambulance and a tanker truck, as well as repairs to old vehicles.

The money will also be used to purchase new protective equipment, carry out training, and help with general upkeep and costs like fuel and vehicle insurances.

Said mayoress Isilda Gomes after the signing: “As I said, an important sum of the tax would be transferred to Portimão fire station. We have fulfilled what we promised.”

She added that as Portimão is a tourist destination – “a sector which is vital to its local economy” – it is “extremely important to have a high level of security for the thousands of tourists who visit”.

The burning question remains, what will happen to the rest of the money grabbed by the unpopular new tax?

As the Resident wrote in December, it is expected to strip beleaguered ratepayers of at least €1 million (see: http://portugalresident.com/resident-in-outrage-as-portim%C3%A3o-wicked-tax-strips-residents-of-%E2%82%AC1-million)

Thus far a council source has revealed that plans are to plough €120,000 into the construction of barriers to prevent forest fires from spreading throughout rural areas of the borough, while the remainder will go into the so-called “disaster fund”, for scenarios such as earthquakes, as well as to carry out fire and earthquake simulations at local schools.

The fund has been severely criticised by ratepayers who opposed the civil protection tax from the outset and contend the town is already facing a “disaster” as thousands struggle to pay their bills.