2) Tom was contacted by the US Embassy that they have a pamphlet available that discusses US Citizens' tax responsibility while living abroad. It is available by request.
3) Tom was informed that San Pedro now has body bags available (this has been an issue in the past.)
4) Jan Brown reported that the A.C. Citizens for Sustainable Development showed 2 videos on the reef and the infrastructure required for a healthy reef and how shore development (like South Beach) may be detrimental.
5) Cullen Walker, a volunteer at Holy Cross School, thanked the Tsunami Sky Divers for donating 2 Dives to auction off as fund raising. About $1600 was raised to benefit the school.
6)Tom reported that the ACCC Committee that was established to look into ways to promote tourism from Central and South America was working hard but did not have a report for this meeting.
7) UDP Party Candidates
The UDP Candidates attended the meeting to discuss their position and answer questions. Elsa Paz, Mayor, stressed the benefit of having the Town Council be the same party as the Central Government for getting funding for projects and better support for San Pedro.
Comments made to the candidates:
- Open Town Council meetings to the public. Elsa Paz, Mayor, commented that they originally had quarterly open meetings but that the attendance was so poor that they changed it to just once a year.
- Allocation of income to area from which it was received, i.e. bridge tolls to road maintenance in Boca del Rio and north of the cut and real estate taxes to infrastructure.
- Transparency from the Town Council of funds collected and where spent.
- There should be a penalty for unpaid taxes to encourage everyone to pay.
Comments from the candidates:
- Some of their accomplishments: locating a new site for a cemetery, promoting a litter program including school age children as well as adults, a street sweeper was to be delivered 20 Feb, they have purchased a trash compactor and are working hard to increase the police force and neighborhood watch programs.
Other topics discussed:
- Vocational School for job training is planned. Property near the airport has been located but the project is behind other urgent programs that deal with improving conditions in areas such as DFC and San Mateo. It is hoped that the Vocational School will be accomplished this year.
- Cobble stoning Lagona Drive was commencing. The agreement has been signed and the surveyors have started on Lagona Drive and the road to the beach. When complete, the beach road will be closed to traffic again and the beach re-sanded.
- Subvention was discussed, San Pedro only get $69K per year back from the central government which is much less than most communities. The Mayor did not see that increasing but by getting more departments granted autonomy allowed funds collected to stay here and the Town Council would have more control over how the funds are spent.
- Speeding is becoming a problem with the increase in 'souped up' golf carts and 4-wheelers, especially on the north island. The traffic department is working on a solution to the problem.
- It was commented that heavy truck and large auto traffic on the roads cause more damage than golf carts so they should pay more. The traffic department has almost completed a truck route which will keep the large vehicles on the back streets.
- The traffic department is taking Tom up on his offer of software for inventory control to help with the vehicle registrations, etc.
- Crocodile feeding was brought up by a concerned citizen. It is becoming more and more dangerous to the children and the people who live in the area. The idea of turning it into a controlled tourist attraction is no longer an option as the property on which the feeding occurs was sold to Mr. Billy Harmouch. He has been contacted and has agreed to erect a fence. This will allow the police to arrest trespassers. Right now they have to actually catch them in the act of feeding to prosecute them. It was asked if the Town Council would be willing to work with the Forestry Department on a solution and they said 'Yes'.
8) The Town Council was commended on the excellent job they were doing with trash collection and maintaining all the new trash cans. There are still cans available, if anyone knows of a good place to put them, contact Tom.
Our next Chamber meeting will be held on Thursday, Feb. 26th, at the Blue Water Grill.