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#253955 - 10/23/07 08:43 PM URGENT ROAD NOTICE
Banana Beach Offline
Oct 23 2007

To: San Pedro Business Association

I spoke to David Medina this morning and he stated that he is 6 weeks past due on a $ 600,000 payment due from the GOB for road works.

He further stated that he cannot continue to operate out of pocket for much longer and he will regretfully be forced to demobilize his crew and equipment in a week or two if he is not paid. David is serious and this is not an idle threat to help speed up his receivable collections.

Medina confirmed that the road project will be completed by the end of December 2007 if he is able to stay on schedule.

Chris Berlin
_________________________
www.bananabeach.com

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#253958 - 10/23/07 08:54 PM Re: URGENT ROAD NOTICE [Re: Banana Beach]
Ernie B Offline
This stinks. Now what?
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#253962 - 10/23/07 09:10 PM Re: URGENT ROAD NOTICE [Re: Ernie B]
Amanda Syme Offline
I would think that the Board of Directors for the San Pedro Business Association will get together and head over to the town council offices and then possibly even over to Belmopan to find out where the payments are. The Government of Belize has agreed to pay for the road improvements and now it needs to be held accountable.

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#253964 - 10/23/07 09:15 PM Re: URGENT ROAD NOTICE [Re: Amanda Syme]
Ernie B Offline
Sounds right Amanda. They can not be allowed to stiff the contractor and leave the job unfinished.
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#253980 - 10/23/07 09:42 PM Re: URGENT ROAD NOTICE [Re: Ernie B]
Amanda Syme Offline
The road project has been moving along at a great pace. The difference along large stretches of the road are so pleasantly noticeable. Now that we have some nice roads it makes the awful roads appear to be 10 times worse. But the bad roads are still absolutely horrific and will need to be worked on too.

The road project should really be a an ongoing project, for the next 5 years if needs be, until nobody has to break their back on the bumps, and nobody has to walk or ride their bikes through 2 feet of mud and cesspool water.

The last SPBA meeting was very enlightening in regards to discussions of Ambergris Caye tax revenues.

Someone correct me if I am wrong - but we were told that the town council receives $69,000 Bz per year from central government. In addition it receives the property taxes which amounts to $3 million per year. A barge load of hardcore (rocks) for the streets costs $25,000 Bz landed on the island.

San Pedro businesses generate around $60 million Belize dollars in taxes each year that are remitted to the Central Government.

San Pedro is simply asking for a portion of that money back to help improve the lives of its 10,000 residents and its large tourist/visitor population. Without tourism this island cannot survive. Without tourism this island cannot send $60 million in taxes to Central Government.

The roads are just one major problem this island is facing. Garbage pick up and disposal is another. We need more police (with facilities/housing/vehicles etc.) We need more school dollars!

And this doesn't begin to address the many, many smaller problems that we need to address - let's not even go there right now.

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#253981 - 10/23/07 09:51 PM Re: URGENT ROAD NOTICE [Re: Amanda Syme]
Amanda Syme Offline
Okay, $60 million in revenue is, on average, $5 million per month. We know that there are regions in Belize that do not enjoy the tourist dollar and we need to do our share to help pay for their upkeep too, but fair is fair. $69,000 out of $60m is what? Not even a pee in the ocean.

It is absolutely outrageous and ridiculous. And worse, we have been letting this go on for so long, and even worse, now that we made the GOB stand up and take notice for a moment, it looks like we have already lost its attention in the span of a few short months.

There are quite a few quirks in the law that allow some tax dollars that the town council could collect, disappear into the town board coffers. There is going to be some lobbying to remedy some of these smaller issues. Such as traffic tickets, littering tickets etc.


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#254050 - 10/24/07 05:45 AM Re: URGENT ROAD NOTICE [Re: Amanda Syme]
SFJeff Offline
...the high season is right around the corner.

...Elections are right around the corner.

...maybe it's time for the resorts and businesses on the island to get the attention of the GOB again. Withhold taxes... don't "not pay them" simply don't pay them to the GOB... Put the $ into a collective account (monitored by the SPBA? C of C? Both?) to be released only when a proportionate share of tax revenue gets reinvested back into the island. This is an idea that's been kicked back and forth in bar-stool conversations for years... main problem I suppose is no one wants to be first out of the gate to put their head on the chopping block. I would imagine though, if some of the larger establishments on the island (Ramon's, V House, Capt Morgans, etc) and the SPBA were on board, all the small to mid size biz's would immediately follow suit. I know we would.

Ambergris is certainly on the verge of losing much of its appeal as a tourist destination.


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#254093 - 10/24/07 03:41 PM Re: URGENT ROAD NOTICE [Re: SFJeff]
Amanda Syme Offline
Hi Jeff

It would be great if Rojo and Azul were to become active members of the SPBA. There was a meeting last week and we have realized that we need to cast a wide net and bring in more members so that we become a real force to be dealt with.

Your suggestion has been proposed but needs to be fine tuned so that demands are reasonable and attainable. Demanding too much or being too forceful can sometimes have a bad ricochet effect. Applying gentle pressure in just the right spot should work well for an ongoing positive relationship with the GOB.


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#254139 - 10/24/07 06:46 PM Re: URGENT ROAD NOTICE [Re: Amanda Syme]
SFJeff Offline
Amanda,

Absolutley... we will talk with Elito/others involved witht he SPBA... It would be logical that this is a subject that should bridge any PUP Vs. UDP mindset... If you own a business on the island and you go OUT of business because tourism goes down the tubes, it does not really matter much which way you voted. 10 years ago much of the appeal of San Pedro was that it was a quaint fishing town... It's not a quaint fishing town anymore though. Ambergris, for better or worse, now competes as a tourist destination with MX, the rest of the Caribbean, etc... It's going to be pretty hard to convince tourists to come here in the years to come if all we can offer is something that is more expensive, crowded, polluted, that has poor (or no) infrastructure, etc...

Agreed any demands need to be realistic... and perhaps imlemented in a series of phases/milestones... the Town Board (again, despite any personal polital leanings one may have) should also been included in the process. The "demands" made to the GOB should be, as much as possible, presented as coming from the island as a whole.


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#254338 - 10/26/07 05:09 AM Re: URGENT ROAD NOTICE [Re: SFJeff]
Portofino Offline
From The San Pedro Sun:

Q: How are the streets coming along? I heard that Mr. Medina would no longer keep working on them because he has money owed to him?
- submitted via Email


A: In order to understand the “money” situation, we have to first understand the way the agreements were made.

The streets have been a terrible problem in San Pedro Town and although officials have lobbied to get the work done, it is still an unsettled matter. In The San Pedro Sun Vol. 17, No. 5 issue, after motions made by the San Pedro Business Association, a meeting was held at the San Pedro Lions Den to address the concern. Local government stated then, that the Barrier Reef Drive Rehabilitation Project was set to commence at a price tag of BZ$1.7 million. Drafts had been made to include the Southern Road which would cost $3.5 million extra to complete. BZ$3.5 million was what the San Pedro Town Council could not come up with and as such, Government decided to give the town a loan The San Pedro Town Council (SPTC) returned from their visit with the Prime Minister with good news. Government will give the money needed for the Southern Road Rehabilitation Project amounting to a total of $3.8 million. This money [would] come in the form of a free interest loan [from the GOB] with a three year payment plan. Because, the Barrier Reef Rehabilitation Project has been set to commence this week, payment on this government loan will not commence until 2008. [The San Pedro Sun reported]

Vol. 17, No. 7 brought good news to the residents of the island. Valentine’s Day of 2007 will be remembered as the day Prime Minister of Belize Said Musa said that they would grant the $3.8 million, not $3.5 (as previously reported) needed for the project, not as a loan to the San Pedro Town Council but as a gift.

So, both projects commenced. A monthly payment plan was entered with a local contractor, Medina’s Construction. As residents may be aware of, the Barrier Reef project commenced before the Southern Road. Therefore, the first payment of $119,000 (the monthly agreement for Barrier Reef Drive) was disbursed to Medina’s on April of 2007. The Memorandum of Understanding, signed between SPTC, GOB and Medina’s stated that SPTC and GOB would come to an arrangement as to how the government’s share would be paid to Medina. Before the end of the fiscal year, GOB paid $.8 million to SPTC ($800,000) in March 2007. It was agreed between Town Administrator Patty Verde and then Financial Secretary Carla Barnett that the $3 mil balance would be paid in 8 monthly installments of $375,000 each, to be released the last Friday of each month or April 27th, May 25th, June 29th, July 27th, August 31st, September 28th, October 26th and the last installment on November 30th.

Although there are two projects, the San Pedro Town Council has only ONE contract with Medina’s which includes both Barrier Reef Drive and the Southern Road. Every month, SPTC, not GOB (although they are paying for the South Road), has to pay Medina $338,000. To pay for the Barrier Reef project, SPTC, it has been reported, has been selling government land on Northern Ambergris Caye and has been receiving donations and financial assistance from GOB. All these monies go into one SPTC account.

The months of June and July, SPTC did not receive the agreed upon monies from GOB. After lobbying with officials, a site visit of the road project was arranged through the Ministry of Works. After the visit and a report was drafted, SPTC got $750,000 to keep the work going. August passed as did September and SPTC has yet to receive the money agreed upon again. According to Miss Verde, GOB has stated that another site visit has to be organized. However, an evaluation also needs to be carried out to make sure that the works are proceeding in the manner that they should. “No where in the MOU did it state that in order for us to get the money, a visit had to be arranged. We are not opposed to having Ministry of Works come and inspect the job done but they are a busy and understaffed department,” commented Verde.

With the October deadline for payment coming in on Friday, GOB will be behind three months or $1,125,000. “We have been paying Medina through the land sale for both projects but we are now behind,” explained Verde.

Calls placed to both Ministry of Works Chief Executive Officer Dr. Michael Tewes and Betty Ann Jones who is handling the SPTC account for the Ministry of Finance were not returned, as of press time.

Speaking with Medina he commented that the project will continue and has continued even though he has not received payment but if payment is not received soon enough, the project will need to be halted.

As was reported monies acquired through the sale of government land on Northern Ambergris Caye and through donations, however SPTC also uses monies paid for Property Taxes in this venture. Property, liquor and trade licenses all remain on the island for the use of its proper management. Honorable Manuel Heredia explained at last week’s San Pedro Business Association that close to 60% of property taxes remain unpaid. The general public is asked to pay these monies owed as soon as possible. As the ads say, “Remember your tax dollar builds a better San Pedro.”


http://www.sanpedrosun.net/07-415.html

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