The new mayor in Jacó has a long agenda of projects for the canton and says he is ready to block the Costanera main highway to get his way. He is Tobías Murillo, 74. He said he wants to provide housing for the people living in the slums of El Hueco, improve the tax collections and build a new sewage system for the whole community of Jacó. He takes office as the mayor of Garabito May 1 and will be the oldest mayor in the country.
Murillo has accrued more than 30 years of experience in public office, including eight years as legislator in 1982 and 1986. He claims to be among the pioneers who founded Jacó housing projects and improved electricity and health coverage in his canton in the 80s and 90s.
A lifetime member of the Partido Liberación Nacional, he won the municipal election with the support of 1,903 voters, according to data from Tribunal Supremo de Elecciones.
“Many believe Jacó is a wealthy and abundant place,” said Murillo. “However, the truth is that there is a lot of poverty, especially in El Hueco. Our plan is to buy at least 35 hectares to provide 1,000 families with decent housing.”
Murillo said he also wants to fight fraud with property taxes. He assures that one key strategy towards this goal is to standardize the tax value of similar properties in similar locations.
“Sometimes a property pays $300 in taxes per square meter. The property next to it pays $50. It’s ridiculous,” he said. For Murillo, those disparities come from crooked public officials.
“Then there is the sewage issue. We don´t have one that works, and I will protest or block the Costanera Sur highway to get it done if I have to. We’ll get it. I don’t know how, but we will get it,” Murillo said. Sewer service is provided by the Instituto Costarricense de Acueductos y Alcantarillados.
He also plans to play an important role in the next World Surf Championship, where he expects more than 100,000 visitors to crowd the streets of Jacó. The event will take place Aug 6 to 14.
“We are supporting this effort with $150,000. We want the local businesses to profit as much as possible from this opportunity. We will have about 200 hectares for parking lots, and we’ll double the amount of police officers during those days,” he said.
According to the latest municipal efficiency index, published by Contraloría General, Garabito obtained 60.23 points out of 100. The document cites trash collection as one of the main issues to be improved in the area. Nevertheless, Murillo does not think so.
“I don’t know how those indexes are created. Probably those guys took one trip to Jacó and just looked around, without even getting out of their cars. There are way more important things to work on.” he said.