The shores of Ambergris Caye are lined with docks stretching out to sea in front of restaurants, hotels, tour operators and even private residences. The law requires proper maintenance of these structures, and fees are collected by official authorities. However, it is uncertain who these fees are paid to, which raises concerns if the The San Pedro Town Council (SPTC) has that jurisdiction.
In an interview with The San Pedro Sun, Mayor Daniel Guerreo confirmed that Central Government through the Ministry of Natural resources collects the fees. However, the SPTC is working on getting that changed. “I want that jurisdiction. We already applied for it, and we are pushing to obtain it,” said Guerrero.
According to Tanisha Fergusson from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Lands Department, the annual fee is a lease for dock managing, which then becomes additional revenue for the Central Government. This revenue does not necessarily return to the municipality where it is collected from. “In terms of development of the municipality, that is what the local authorities are there for. That is the reason why taxes are paid to a Town Council in the case of San Pedro Town. The dock fees go into the general revenue of the government and are then distributed evenly countrywide.” The possibility of the local authorities gaining such control on the collection of pier fees is very slim, as it is similar to property taxes, which are solely collected by Central Government.
On the other hand, the SPTC believes that by taking over, it will greatly benefit the local economy of the Town. According to Guerrero, the collections of dock fees total a gross amount of at least $1 million dollars every year.
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