This from the Ambergris Caye Chamber of Commerce minutes from their last meeting:
6) "Mr. Claudio Azueta attended the meeting to answer questions about the property tax increase. He is on the Appeals Board but until the recent announcement on tax increases there have not been any appeals. The property tax rate has not changed but the assessed values have changed. All property will be charged at 1-1/2% of the undeveloped value and if there is a structure, an additional tax of 2-1/2% of the yearly rental value is charged. Essentially this has led to a 3500% increase in the taxes. Many people are upset about this sudden increase in property taxes. Most people feel that the tax rate is very low and an increase would be acceptable but this is an unreasonable hike. It could also allow selective application of the tax. Mr. Azueta recommended that if you feel that your tax has increased unfairly, write a letter to:
Chairman of Valuations Appeal Board
San Pedro Town
and deliver it to the Town Council Office.
This tax increase is being shouldered by those that already pay taxes but there is 3-4 Million dollars in uncollected taxes and no penalties have been assessed for non-payment. Most felt that an attempt should be made to collect these taxes before assessing more taxes on those that do pay. It was suggested that if an outside collection agency was hired to collect the taxes owed that it may be more successful than having the Town Council try to collect them.
The current law on the books to deal with non-payment of taxes allows the Town Council to inform the owners that taxes are due, then file in court and after 1 year, the property can be seized.
So far, some Chamber members had paid their taxes recently but the rate was the same. Claudio knew of others whose rates had gone up the 3500%. The new tax rates will apply to 2010 taxes."
The San Pedro Business Association is also getting involved in this.
I would certainly suggest that if the Town Council persist in thinking they need 3500% more income for 2010-2011 then as taxpayers and members of the business community we should demand, and if necessary fund, a full audit of all Town Council accounts. Said audit should, of course, include an inspection of all property tax bills for town council members and family.
I am sure such an audit would find many constructive ways of enabling the Town Council to balance their books without killing all real estate investment on Ambergris Caye, something these deplorable tax increases will certainly do if they're allowed to stand.