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#372618 - 04/06/10 12:18 PM Letter to Town Board - Urgent Response Required
Marty Online   happy
Attached is a letter that is being drafted by a concerned business owner and member of the SPBA. This letter will be sent to media outlets tomorrow.

This draft is being sent to you, as business owners, to see if anyone else would like to add their name/business as a signee. Also, to the organizations included, would you like to be listed as a signee also.

If yes, please let us know asap, as the newspaper deadline is tomorrow at noon.

San Pedro Business Association <info@sanpedrobusiness.com>

Because the Mayor and SPTC have not run the affairs of our island as they should
have two huge misfortunes have befallen our island in the past few weeks.

1. Our water supply collapsed this Easter due to contamination of the filter
system in the Consolidated Water Supply desalination plant. This ruined the
stay of thousands of tourists during this critical holiday and many will (a) not
return to our island and (b) will spread the word that weíre so backward here
on Ambergris Caye that we donít even take showers. Weíre all 100%
dependent on tourism on this island. This will really hurt us in the months and
years to come.

2. Our Mayor has decided to unilaterally increase some property taxes by as
much as 4000% (yes, thatís FOUR THOUSAND PERCENT) because she
says the SPTC is short of cash. If this ridiculous and irresponsible tax increase
is allowed to ďstickĒ it will scare off investors and kill all property sales on
Ambergris Caye. Central Government will be deprived of valuable revenues in
the form of the Stamp Transfer Tax and just about all new building work will
halt causing mass unemployment in the construction industry.

The responsibilities of the Mayor and San Pedro Town Council are pretty limited:
Collect the garbage, maintain and clean the roads, register/licence vehicles and issue
parking tickets, collect trade and liquor license fees and issue certificates for same and
issue building permits where new construction has been approved.

Only the garbage collection and road cleaning/maintenance require extensive use of
funds collected via. property taxes. The other items are supported by their own fee
Matters that our Mayor and San Pedro Town Council members do NOT have to get
involved in include cutting sweetheart deals with environment-destroying developers
(read Mr. David Mitchell, Grand Belize Estates and Sugar Caye). One cannot blame
Mr. Mitchell for his entrepreneurial spiritÖif you can pay off local government
officials in order to make money why not do it? We also donít need the Mayor and
SPTC to get involved in fancy plans for a costly boardwalk at the rear of the old
football field or in plans for a pricey civic center. At least not while they donít get the
basics done right.

The Mayorís threatened (and in some cases already billed) tax increases clearly show
that she and her SPTC members are incapable of carrying out the limited
responsibilities detailed above in this letter without totally screwing up the books. If
she does not back down from these ridiculous business-destroying tax increases we as
citizens and business people will have no option but to demand, and if necessary pay
for, a full and complete audit of the last four years of SPTC accounts. Itís not the
Mayorís personal money, itís OURS, the taxpayerís, and itís our right to demand such
an audit.

The sweetheart deals cut with developers by the Mayor and SPTC members clearly
show a disregard for the environment and overall well-being of our island and its
economy. For a little bit of personal reward from the developer to the SPTC members
we lost our water supply over a most critical holiday period. We lost acres of prime
mangrove wetlands on the Sugar Caye site. Now the developer, Mr. Mitchell, is
acting in defiance of a court injunction stopping him from building an
environmentally disastrous road to his Grand Belize Estates development. As we said
earlier in this letter: One can hardly blame him when he is given the tacit blessing of
the SPTC and Mayor.

Here is the message of this letter to the Mayor and SPTC members: Back off these
ridiculous tax increases. Get your house in order (well, our house really, itís our
island after all) by stopping the leakage of tax payer money for personal gain. Collect
all past due Property Taxes (over $4 million!), collect all past due Trades and Liquor
licence fees, stop the leakage of over 90% of the cash collected at the toll bridge. Quit
the sweetheart deals with slash and burn developers. THEN the Mayor can look at
limited and sensible tax increases to cover any slight shortfall genuinely encountered.
In short, they should carry out the limited responsibilities for which they ran for office
in an honest and conscientious manner.


#372623 - 04/06/10 01:17 PM Re: Letter to Town Board - Urgent Response Required [Re: Marty]
SFJeff Offline
Good morning,

So reading over the above letter, I find it hard to imagine that the majority of business owners on the island donít share this same sentiment.

Playing devilís advocate for a moment though, in reading the letter (which is a call for the Mayor/Town Board to get our house in order) my first question is ďget it in order or what???Ē What are the ramifications if they Mayor and the SPTB do not? Someone will take out an ad in the local newspapers??? Thatís hardly a deterrent. Theyíll lose votes in the next election? Also less of a deterrent than in years past Iím afraid. Individuals within the local GOV will protest and/or quit? Did anyone even care/notice when the head of the ACLBA stepped down from his position last week in protest of exactly what this letter describes?

In the past, people have spoke about withholding business and/or hotel taxes to draw attention to similar situations/prompt action, but what is it going to take to get an across the board agreement to take such action? Who are the heavy hitters, established businesses, old time San Pedranos, etc who are going to spearhead such? And how often would such action be needed if/when any promises to remedy turn out to be lip service as usual?

Whatever voice of protest there is, HAS to be completely apolitical... This has nothing to do with red and blue (as this is obviously not a new problem, just perhaps on a larger scale now.) Are we the business sector/public even capable of doing that? If not, then there is no point in even complaining.


#372625 - 04/06/10 01:36 PM Re: Letter to Town Board - Urgent Response Required [Re: SFJeff]
Peter Jones Offline
What we don't know is whether a fixed %age increase has been applied across the board, or whether it is being selectively applied. And whether certain individuals have already been told they don't have to pay it.

The charge is clearly absurd and unprecedented, not just here but in any other "civilised" country as well. I think a full impartial judicial review into this charge and the body that has chosen to impose it is called for.

#372632 - 04/06/10 02:32 PM Re: Letter to Town Board - Urgent Response Required [Re: Peter Jones]
Ernie B Offline
Yep, get the fox to guard the hen house.
Gun Control is Hitting Your Target.

#372634 - 04/06/10 02:54 PM Re: Letter to Town Board - Urgent Response Require [Re: Ernie B]
Marty Online   happy
Follow up regarding 'the letter' - Meeting set for Thursday afternoon at 2:00pm at El Divino

Further to the issue of the Concerned Citizen's Draft Letter sent out earlier today, and based on the excellent feedback received so far, the best course of action is to hold a meeting of business owners to discuss the direction and content of this letter before it is sent to the Town Board and Media.

As such, a meeting will be held on Thursday, April 8th and 2:00 pm at El Divino Restaurant (Banana Beach Resort) to discuss these issues and decide upon a direction moving forward. Based on the importance of these issues, please do try to attend to present your opinions, ideas and concerns.


#372636 - 04/06/10 05:08 PM Re: Letter to Town Board - Urgent Response Require [Re: Marty]
reaper Offline
I always wondered how much money from the bridge made it back to city hall. Damn.

#372666 - 04/06/10 08:17 PM Re: Letter to Town Board - Urgent Response Require [Re: reaper]
TravelinMan1 Offline
It is time for the business association to have a meeting and discuss some of these issues:

1) property taxes
2) Town expenditures
3) GST
4) Disregard for the Laws of Belize
5) Import bans

This government both local and national has been doing whatever it wants without any thought to the implications of their actions. We must all get together a formulate a letter that addresses these issues and other and present it to them. Either we work as a group to a common goal or we stop complaining and take what they give us. We must also give some thought to the actions we propose if we don't get any answers.

On another note I would suggest that every single person prepare themselves to vote in the next election by registering or becoming a citizen if you have been here long enough.

Let's get this rolling!

#372724 - 04/07/10 10:36 AM Re: Letter to Town Board - Urgent Response Require [Re: reaper]
Amanda Syme Offline
Originally Posted By: reaper
I always wondered how much money from the bridge made it back to city hall. Damn.

I would take that estimate with a grain of salt -

#372761 - 04/07/10 03:46 PM Re: Letter to Town Board - Urgent Response Require [Re: Amanda Syme]
Diane Campbell Offline
The word late yesterday was that after further reflection, the above mentioned letter would not go out as written. Instead, concerned members of the SPBA will meet and discuss, after which action will be taken.

#372763 - 04/07/10 04:13 PM Re: Letter to Town Board - Urgent Response Require [Re: Diane Campbell]
Peter Jones Offline
Good. Action is needed, but that letter probably wouldn't have done any good. We need to go above the Town Board.

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