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#405032 - 04/14/11 02:32 PM Dark Days At City Hall
Marty Online   happy
This morning at the Belize city hall work started as usual, but by ten minutes to 9:00, their light had been cut!

It is the curse of the "malpago" and while it happens at residential properties everyday - for it to happen at an institutional property is just plain embarrassing!

We found out what's behind it today:

Jules Vasquez Reporting:

The multiple light meters at city hall had red tags on them at 9:30 this morning - meaning BEL had cut out the light at the city's seat of power - how embarrassing.

The same had been done at the commercial center, but when we got there at 9:45, a technician was busy restoring power on the vast grid of meters.

The red tabs of disconnection strewn on the ground like a record of a dark day at city hall.

And shortly after - he was back at city hall doing the same thing - letting there be light - power had only gone for an hour or so, but, cutting the light at city hall? That's really rough.

Councilor with responsibility for public relations Dion Leslie says it's regrettable, but it's not his council's fault:

Dion Leslie, City Councilor responsible for PR
"It's been in talking between the City Council and BEL for the past couple months where there is an outstanding balance of between thirty to thirty-five thousand dollars, I believe. But the bills date back to 2003; at the moment we don't have those bills on hand at City Council. So we asked BEL to please give a run-down of all the bills and meters. So that was given to the City Council; Monday evening it was emailed to the City Administrator. She then handed it down to the Finance Department for them to do their due-dilligence, and go through and match the bills with our records, which we had to go and dig back, because it's 8 years of records that we had to go through. We had to match those bills with the corresponding one from BEL to make sure that meter numbers are correct, that the totals are correct. So we have to do our due-dilligence, and apparently BEL only gave the Council 1 day to do all this work. It was a print-out of 29 pages and so they came in this morning and cut us out."

Jules Vasquez
"Did you all have to pay a reconnection fee?"

Dion Leslie
"I don't know, Jules. Honestly I don't know; I'd hope not because it is a misunderstanding on BEL's part. You can't expect to go over 29 pages of bills in one day. That's ridiculous to ask for."

Jules Vasquez
"Perhaps negotiations were on-going or the thing had been pending for years, and they felt that they had exhausted all their efforts to have you all pay, and they had to pull the plug in order to make City Hall "get the sense".

Dion Leslie
"I don't think so at all because for the meare fact that they emailed us Monday evening, shows that we were still in the process of negotiating and cross-checking everything, so I don't think it was done with any malice on the part of BEL."

Jules Vasquez
"I find it hard to believe that this wouldn't go up to some manager's desk and they said well, "You can't do that; that's City Hall"

Dion Leslie
"Well my understanding when spoke to the City Administrator is she tried, after numerous attempts, to get in touch with Upper Management of BEL and she wasn't able."

We asked Leslie for copies of the bills but those were not forthcoming.

BEL had no comment today and would only say that it's best we speak to City Council about their account.

Channel 7


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#405035 - 04/14/11 02:36 PM Re: Dark Days At City Hall [Re: Marty]
Marty Online   happy
MISUNDERSTANDING LEADS TO ELECTRICITY BEING CUT AT CITY HALL

The Belize City Council was in an embarrassing situation today when the lights went out at City Hall on North Front Street this morning. But it was not because of a BEL blackout. In fact the light company pulled the plug on the Belize City Council because of non-payment of its bill. Councilor Dion Leslie told Love News that it was all a misunderstanding and that the problem has been worked out.

Dion Leslie Ė Councilor, Belize City Council

ďWeíve been in talks for the past months and weeks discussing the total owed. We explained to them we do not these bills on hand, it is from eight years ago, we need to cross check them, can you please send us a print out. A print out was sent Monday evening, a 29 page print out, it was received by the City Administrator. She forwarded it to the Finance Department to have them crosscheck and correspond the meter numbers with meters that the Councils have had from 2003. For example there is a meter for Regent Street and at this moment the Council has no building on Regent Street; it was old Traffic Department so we need to confirm the number of the meter with the balance and whatís not. Apparently BEL thought one day would be enough to get all of this done and they came in this morning to cut off City Hall. We have spoken to them and they understand and apparently they have put back on the light."

Patrick Jones - Reporter

How does City Hall end up owing $23,000.00 in electricity bill?

Dion Leslie Ė Councilor, Belize City Council

ďIt is an old bill dating back from 2003 and it is not one set bill that the Council had just for City Hall itself. It was a bunch of meters, one for $15.00, one for $100.00, one for $200.00 that have added up to this total and we currently donít have the records on hand that is why we asked BEL to send us a statement; they did so, but they only gave the Council one day to look over that statement, confirm the amounts on that statement and the meters number which is kind of ridiculous one day to go over 29 pages when you yourself had to go dig into your own files from eight years back to just make sure that everything matches up. We have spoken to them and things are back on track. We are not telling BEL, no, we wonít pay you we just want to confirm the amount that you are saying. You canít just give a bill and I say I will give you the money. You want to confirm it first and that is what the City Council is doing.Ē

Leslie says that the Financial Controller Patrick Tillett and the City Administrator will work out the payment of the outstanding bill. It is an episode that the Council is all too happy to put behind it as quickly as possible.

Dion Leslie - Councilor, Belize City Council

"Itís an embarrassing situation in some aspects. I more believe it is just a misunderstanding and miscommunication between BEL and the City Council. I donít think BEL had it intentionally to embarrass City Council and we at City Council we donít want to be embarrassed by not paying our bills. It works on both sides. I believe it was a misunderstanding. Maybe lines got crossed up in communication between our City Administrator and whoever we were dealing with at BEL but it has been resolved, lights will be restored, we will cross check all the totals and we will pay BEL once we confirm the amount."

Patrick Jones - Reporter

So no hard feelings between you and BEL?

Dion Leslie - Councilor, Belize City Council

ďNo hard feelings. They are doing their jobs but they have to give us time to do our jobs as well.Ē

About half hour after BEL pulled the plug on City Hall, full service was restored after the City Council was able to satisfy Belize Electricity Limited that payment of the debt obligations was forthcoming.

LOVEFM

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#405118 - 04/15/11 03:34 AM Re: Dark Days At City Hall [Re: Marty]
Short Offline
BEL can pretty much charge what they want and when you don't agree they cut you off, no warning. I got a substantial extra bill a year ago, that they claimed was for a period 8 months prior. You can't prove then that they are wrong anymore, the only thing you can do is pay or get cut off. That is how it works with BEL.
_________________________
Live and let live

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#405129 - 04/15/11 12:58 PM Re: Dark Days At City Hall [Re: Short]
Mike Campbell Offline
That is typical of unregulated monopolies. BEL and BTL suck us like vampire bats in the night and the GOB is hand in hand with them supporting their crippling monopolies.

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#405135 - 04/15/11 01:56 PM Re: Dark Days At City Hall [Re: Marty]
Katie Valk Offline
Neither are unregulated and both under the rules of the PUC, one place you can take your complaints.
_________________________
Belize based travel specialist
www.belize-trips.com
info@belize-trips.com

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#405149 - 04/15/11 02:41 PM Re: Dark Days At City Hall [Re: Marty]
Marty Online   happy

Mayor said the B.E.L. disconnection was uncalled for

City Hall had a tough day on Wednesday; it landed itself a black eye after B.E.L. pulled the plug bright and early for unpaid bills. The Belize City Mayor, Zenaida Moya Flowers, pulled no punches this morning in expressing how infuriated she is about the disconnection. Moya Flowers says that the council received a twenty-six page excel document on Monday evening and it was lights out a day and half later, at a time when the office was packed with consumers paying property taxes. According to the Mayor, when she took office in 2006, she was handed a list of debts that added up to eleven point two million dollars, but B.E.L. was nowhere on it. She says the current Council had no knowledge of the unpaid bills, which date back twelve years and that no payments will change hands until the matter is thoroughly investigated.

Zenaida Moya Flowers

Zenaida Moya Flowers, Belize City Mayor

ďWhile Councilor Leslie was saying 2003, my perusal, I looked at it and I saw that there were many of the accounts that they were saying that weíre supposed to pay were for little bills dating back from 1999. That is way beyond my time. I went into office March first, 2006 and so for BEL to have gone back from 1999 I donít know what they are trying to do, what they are attempting to do but it really raised my eyes as to why they would go back from 1999 when this council came into office in 2006. So we have been reviewing it and we will try to ensure that whatever is proper is done because the Belize City Council, we donít have any bills when we got into office 2006, stating that we owe BEL. As a matter of fact, when we got into office we continued paying and as far as we know we are up to date. So whoever pulled those bills out of a hat from 1999, clearly we will have to ensure that the council does due diligence and that our legal team looks at it as well. Also, for any manager or any higher-ups to okay pulling the plug or cutting off the lights from City Hall, to me it shows vindictiveness because the council is not just any entity. Itís there conducting work on behalf of all the residents of Belize City.

We at the City Hall donít even have those records dating back. When we got into office, as a matter of fact, we donít even get records for the 2005 period much less 1999. So thatís why you need to really understand that this council was not presented with those bills and so I donít believe that this council should simply jump up and take the peopleís money and pay bills that is alleged that the council owes dating back 1999. And even statute bar, you have to look at those measures. I mean, 1999 man? Why did Belize Electricity Limited not ensure that the council of 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2005 pay those bills? Why come to our council 2011?Ē

B.E.L. has asked that the council provide a response by Friday on how they intend to proceed. But Mayor Moya Flowers says they need time because the document only lists account numbers and balances, but has no indication of where the service was provided or to whom. We were unable to confirm if there is in fact one very recent unpaid bill. The mayor was this morning on Open Your Eyes.

Channel 5


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