The SPBA will come with their transcript, I double checked on that. I will post it as soon as it's done. Here is my brief recap of the meeting:
After the introduction, the PM held a speech in which he of course underlined the work that he had already done, and stated that issues like roads, police and garbage are typical problems that have to be dealt with by the Town Council. He emphasized that the government is making big efforts on a better electricity infrastructure and a new water distribution system for the island.
Chris Berlin was the first to ask for extra help in the budget for the police force. Gricel Graniel remarked that in order for San Pedro to remain a source of taxes for the rest of the country, our tourists have to be protected.
Chris Alnatt did the math on the police officers, and with 1200 police officers country wide on a population of 300,000 there is a police officer for every 250 people. In San Pedro we have 26 officers on a population of about 18,000 (not including tourists) that is 1 for every 692 people.
The PM seemed surprised by these facts and when the Hon. Rodwell Ferguson, Minister of Defense came in (BDF assistance had also been asked) he asked him whether extra assistance would be possible. To be continued is the message.
Peter Lawrence reminded the PM of last year when the government decided to chip in for the roads (after the then unborn SPBA threatened the government not paying anymore taxes), and wondered whether now he could do the same thing and promise another 4 million dollars to continue the road building, but unfortunately the PM didn't bring a check this time...
Of course funding came up, and the argument that the SPTB (San Pedro Town Board) only gets BZ$ 69,000 to spent from the government was contradicted by the PM saying that property taxes (that are collected and used by the SPTB) should be around 9 to 10 million. After some asking around that figure turned out to be 3 million dollars, and according to Manuel Herredia about 2.4 million of that has been collected. It should also be noted that according to figures that are 3 years old, all the businesses on Ambergris Caye pay about BZ$ 60,000,000 annually to the GOB.
Another issue was the DFC area, where no property taxes are being paid, and there seems to be a lot of confusion about this area. The PM stated that they also need to pay property taxes, and promised the SPTB help in collecting the taxes. Regarding to the roads in DFC the issue was raised that in a subdivision the developer should take care of the infrastructure, in this case being the GOB, but ccording to the PM, roads are the responsibility of the SPTB.
As for the garbage, we would like to have a garbage truck, so the garbage doesn't fall of the trailer when it is transported over the bad road to the dump. The PM was surprised to hear that we don't have a garbage truck - I guess also to be continued? I know the SPBA is working on a plan, so we'll see something soon.
Finally Steve Schulte made a plea for Ambergris Caye becoming the 7th district. He mentioned that AC (and San Pedro) have always had the attitude of dealing with their problems on their own. During this meeting it became clear that Belmopan is poorly informed about the status on our island, and he concluded that we would be better able to deal with our problems when we would have our own minister (and a budget to go with that).
The PM agreed that that was a very valid point, said he would certainly look into it but didn't want to make this subject into an election stunt, so he suggested to continue this conversation after elections (when he would still be in the government at that time of course).
I think the meeting was very informative for the PM, it was a very friendly meeting and I hope something positive will come out of this.