. A fairly large group of
businesspeople and concerned citizens gathered at the Town Hall to listen to the
financial report given by the Mayor and to make recommendations, suggestions and
ask questions concerning the everyday activities of the Council.
Acting as facilitator for this meeting was Mr. Eiden
Salazar Jr. who acknowledged the presence of those who attended the meeting.
Attending the meeting with Mayor Alberto Nuñez and the Town Councilors was
Area Representative Patty Arceo.
on the budget for April 1st,
2001 to March 31st, 2002,
Mayor Nuñez mentioned that the Council's revenue budget is $1,639,584; which was
$55,691 more than the last fiscal year. Their cash balance on April
1st, 2001 was $211,050.70 of
which $138,000 was from property auctions, while outstanding bills were $641.01.
The Council continues to maintain a fixed deposit of $50,000 with the Belize
Bank while their checking account balances at Scotia, Belize and Atlantic Banks
were a cumulative $145,342.85. They also continue to have $6,722.69 in their
The mayor was happy to report that
they have met their commitment of paying Caribbean Coves Ltd. for the 500 acres
of land at a rate of $15,000 per year and the one acre from Homero Escalante at
the rate of $30,000 per year. At this rate they should complete payment to Mr.
Escalante by next year. Mayor Nuñez went on to explain that all this is done
primarily with local tax money because the Town Council receives a $69,000
yearly subvention from the Ministry of Finance but this only represents 4.2% of
their annual budget.
Mayor Alberto Nuñez continued by
explaining that the Council is aware and anxious to improve the quality of life
in San Pedro and that despite Hurricane Keith, they have been able to accomplish
the following projects: (a) Installation of twelve culverts and 1,500 feet of
drains; (b) Three new streets; (i) Sunset Drive, (ii) Sac Bajo North, and (iii)
Sac Bajo South. He added that despite excavation work being conducted by BTL,
they have about 80% of all streets in good condition. Major repairs and
reconstruction using sand, hardcore and pine ridge gravel were done, in
conjunction with the Government of Belize, to many areas and streets of
Ambergris Caye. A new street is soon to be constructed behind BEL to help
alleviate the traffic congestion in this area. Work on a southern road to Boca
Chica is presently underway, as well as a road on the north side of the island
approaching Hancock's boundary behind El Pescador. (c) Construction of a seawall
on Sunset Drive, (d) Reclamation of land in the San Pedrito Area and
installation of street lights in several new areas. (e) The purchase of one acre
of land to relocate the Council's workshop/barracks that is now situated south
Mayor Nuñez commended the record
time it took town workers to clean San Pedro Town after the devastation of
Hurricane Keith. He also mentioned that the Town Council has collected $40,000
from yearly pier licenses. This money was used to buy a tractor for garbage
collection. Property tax bills are now being sent out and he asks all property
owners to note that the 4.5% tax levied on property value has been reduced to
2.5%. Presently the Council is finalizing plans to have the public pier
renovated at a cost of $100,000 and they are still working on securing funds to
continue cobblestone streets from Tropic Air to Ramon's Village. Also underway
are plans for financing a new pier to be constructed shortly southwest of town
along with the dredging of a canal. This will allow for the reallocation of the
barges and alleviate the loading and unloading of materials now done by the
beach in the middle and south end of town.
stated that he and the Councilors are fully aware of the problems of excess
motor vehicles, street vendors and littering. Mayor Nuñez explained street
vendors will soon be relocated to new stalls being built by the beach. With
regards to littering, the Council hopes to issue littering fines with assistance
from the Tourism Police and include the San Pedro Justice of the Peace
Association in this as well. The Council is presently in the process of
recruiting an added traffic warden to assure that drivers abide by the traffic
laws. Mayor Nuñez continued that improving garbage collection is one of their
major priorities. In the meantime, they will continue to collect garbage fees
from all businesses until Central Government implements a national garbage
disposal program in which San Pedro will be included.
Mayor ended his report to the gathering stating the San Pedro Town Council was
elected to serve the public and they were reassuring them of their actions with
this report. He then opened the floor to questions, comments or recommendations.
Many took the opportunity to voice their opinion. One of the biggest concerns
was the lack of health monitoring. It was noted that there seemed to be an
ever-increasing amount of street food vendors and the question arose whether
they had the proper health certification to be food handlers. Another concern
was the unsanitary living conditions in some areas of San Pedro, which were
described as "a health hazard waiting to happen." To this, the Mayor answered
that although they are well aware of the problem, they lack the manpower to
remedy the situation. It was suggested that warning letters be issued to
residents and if nothing is done, a fine be levied on those who do nothing to
clear their lots of debris. It was suggested the Council monitor carefully the
Trade License Tax, as it seems that only a few are being billed when there are
many people that are presently operating businesses. It was added this tax could
be a good source of income for the Council. Another suggestion was that the
money from the previous 1% hotel tax increase be lobbied to stay in San Pedro.
This person continued that the tax was initially issued to train tourism police
and San Pedro could use this revenue to conduct tourism police training and pay
for their food and lodging. They explained that since this tax was implemented,
only one tourism police officer has been stationed in San Pedro-the biggest
tourism destination in the country. Other concerns were the increasing traffic
situation, the loss of coconut trees, dredging and the increase in vehicle fees.
The meeting ended with the Mayor, Councilors
and Area Representative assuring the public they would look into all areas