The Americas

Puerto Rico towns to share services, cut costs amid crisis

FILE - In this July 15, 2016 file photo, Puerto Rico Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla listens to U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley speak during the National Governors Association meeting, in Des Moines, Iowa. Garcia Padilla signed a bill late Friday, July 29, 2016, letting the island’s 78 municipal governments share administrative services as a cost-saving measure amid a deep fiscal crisis. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)

FILE - In this July 15, 2016 file photo, Puerto Rico Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla listens to U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley speak during the National Governors Association meeting, in Des Moines, Iowa. Garcia Padilla signed a bill late Friday, July 29, 2016, letting the island’s 78 municipal governments share administrative services as a cost-saving measure amid a deep fiscal crisis. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)  (The Associated Press)

Puerto Rico's governor has signed a bill letting the island's 78 municipal governments share administrative services as a cost-saving measure amid a deep fiscal crisis.

The measure amends a 1991 law to let local governments set up agreements between two or more municipalities to cooperate on finance, public works and other areas, instead of each town having a department for each service.

Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla said late Friday that it is expected to result in substantial savings.

About $2 billion is spent each year to run the U.S. territory's town governments, which employ 56,400 workers. Island mayors have backed the new measure as Puerto Rico struggles with nearly $70 billion in debt and a prolonged economic downturn.