Split Mayor Ivica Puljak said on Thursday, in a comment on the latest decision by the State Inspectorate ordering him to pay another fine of €13,280, that he will fight against it with all available means because he considers it a form of political pressure and will inform European institutions of it.
Addressing a news conference in Split, Puljak noted that on 7 March the city administration received a decision under which he, as the mayor, has to pay a fine of €13,280 and suspend work on a city project even though, he said, work on the project had been suspended before the decision was issued.
The project in question concerned the renovation of the sewer system of the Villa Dalmatia in Split.
Twenty days later, a new decision was issued with another €13,280 fine, ordering the removal of the renovation work done, Puljak said today.
“I have received two decisions, one, which orders that I stop work and the other, ordering that I carry out construction work, threatening another fine if I do not comply. If work is performed, the fine will be €15,926 and if it is not, the fine will again be €15,926,” said Puljak.
He said that this was a typical example of political blackmail aimed at preventing his and his party’s political engagement.
Ridiculous fines are being issued for which no legal expert can say what should be done, Puljak said, adding that the city authorities have consulted “some (experts), who cannot say if work should be carried out or not.”
Puljak also noted that a misdemeanor report was filed against the city administration and himself “for not complying with the decision”, with the city receiving fine of €3,981 and he a fine of €398.
At a news conference held on 21 March, Puljak recalled that the decision on the project to renovate the sewage system of the Villa Dalmatia, and the documents and decision of the Split City Council on project financing, were adopted during the term of the HDZ-led city administration and then Mayor Andro Krstulovic-Opara.
He said then that the contract with the company that carried out work on the project was signed in May 2021, before local elections, at the time when he was not in power.
The project was suspended during Puljak’s term in office because it did not include a decision approving it, the State Inspectorate said recently.
It recalled that the city reported the start of work on 21 October 2021, that a complaint indicating possible irregularities was received on 31 January 2022, an inspection was carried out on 10 February 2022, while on 6 April 2022 a decision was made to suspend the work.
The fine was issued because on 14 February 2023, after the closure of the construction site, it was determined that work on the project had continued without the necessary decision, the State Inspectorate said.
At his 21 March news conference, Puljak recalled that in February 2023 building inspectors visited the site in question, making a record that no work was being carried out at the site.
A day later, City Administration officials paid a visit to the building inspectorate and it was “stated clearly at the time that work to restore the site to its original state had been completed back in March 2022.”
“After all of this, the building inspectorate, that is, the State Inspectorate, decides to fine not the City of Split, but me personally €13,280 noting in its decision that the purpose of the fine is to prevent the continuation of work even though the inspector in charge, too, said the work was not being carried out and that she had information it had been suspended a year ago,” Puljak said on 21 March.
He also noted that during the transfer of power on 15 July 2022, a record signed by the government commissioner for Split and himself stated that the property in question had been restored to its original state due to suspension of work by a building inspection team.
At today’s news conference Puljak said that government commissioner Mirna Veza, who was in charge of the city in the period after he stepped down and called a snap election until he was re-elected mayor, confirmed in writing during her term that the decision to suspend work on the project had been complied with, yet now both the city and the mayor are being fined.
Puljak believes this is a form of political pressure aimed at making him leave politics and that the pressure is due to the new city administration making order in the city.
“We have turned off the taps for some and now they are striking back. We will fight with all means available and seek protection also from the EU’s legal and political institutions,” said Puljak.
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