Screen_shot_2012-04-17_at_7.49.35_PMIn a press conference held yesterday at the Orange Walk Town Hall Mayor Kevin Bernard informed residents about the financial status of the council. When it came to the council's finances it was basically all bad news because what the present council inherited from the town's former administration was a mountain of debts.

Despite the indebtedness, the council has hit the ground running getting the job done with the little resources they have available.

Carmelita Perez - Reporting

With less than two months of taking over the affairs of the municipality the Orange Walk Town Council has embarked in a number of projects including the refurbishing of town hall and the upgrading of streets and drains. In yesterday's press conference Deputy Mayor Josue Carballo in charge of Civil Works, Traffic, Streets and Infrastructure outlined a list of projects the council has accomplished so far.

Councilor Josue Carballo- Orange Walk Town Council

"In terms of the numerous things that we have started to work on, I could highlight a couple, starting with the internal stream lining of preparing and getting the right controls and balances within the Town Council, we have started improve the working conditions if you see with in the area, the work was being done in a hap-hazard manner not having the enough office space and the office distribution and that is one of the first things we decided to do, replacement of non functioning equipment within the office and the field and also being serious about empowering our staff with knowledge.  We have been already confirmed through the ministry of local government that we will be having a training of financial orders coming May 7th to all staff and councillors  it is in line with the training that was received by the Mayor and Deputy Mayor starting this term in office. We came in and found that a lot of the equipment was non-functional actually they were not being used and were being parked up because of numerous mechanical failures and so forth, we found our grader at Shipyard which we got back and started working, we rebuild the suspension of the blue compactor truck, we reinstall the water bowser, we worked on the hydraulic system of the backhoe notwithstanding over $10,000.00 we spend  just on repairs on equipment and that is quite, quite an amount beyond that we also had the misuse and the non-maintenance of our traffic lights which amounted to another $4000,00.00 expenses, notwithstanding those things we have also being serious about where we can cut the cost to ensure that we can service these things and get our machinery on the road and on the work just in the line of fuel consumption we cut down over one month over $10,000.00 in fuel consumption."

The council has also implemented their zoning project and when it comes to infrastructure, that's number one on the list of priorities.

Councilor Josue Carballo- Orange Walk Town Council

" In line with our manifesto commitments we have started to work within the zoning area, we have had a better coordination and the equipping or our sanitation department, we also looking at scheduling the street side chopping to be developed in the lines of the same way we are doing our garbage collection and we have decided that we are going to separating our heavy equipment to be going every week, one week in, one week out to every single zone within the area  we have six zones so in preparation for the hurricane season we have decided that we are going to have our heavy equipment out there working per zone one zone per week and they are going to have at least two routine cycles coming from now until the hurricane season because we have got to be prepared for this rainy season, among the works accomplished so far and al the first things we found that it was of urgent concern even though it was not really within our jurisdiction was the initial repairs of the San Antonio road and I would like to note that a contribution has been done in the past for works to be done in that entire street of which we are still waiting a response to see when ministry of works will start working on the San Antonio Road and the contribution was done on part of the Town Council and so we are still awaiting that completion work to begin but none the less we began by at least beginning to repair so that it is at least in travelling conditions the entrance particularly going around the bus stop, we had culvert construction at the San Lorenzo Housing Site, just within a short period we have graded over seven streets, twelve drains ad work on four other extra streets, we started the renovation in which we are going to be turning the Youths and Sporting Liaison Centre in the riverside area."

As for future projects the listing is extensive yet achievable.

Screen_shot_2012-04-17_at_7.49.56_PMCouncilor Josue Carballo- Orange Walk Town Council

"We have many things coming out right now, we are seriously considering the street paving of the Barbados Street around the same bus stop area, the weekly rotation of our heavy equipment and for all of you to note in partnership with SIF we are really trying our best to make sure that the SIF project starts as early as possible it is still under the jurisdiction of SIF but under the municipal project grant in which it would entail the paving if Santa Familia and San Ignacio Street, we are being told by SIF that this is going to be commencing in July, we have made sure as the Town Council we have met our requirements so that SIF approves the projects and it has been done and so in July we expect that to really kickoff and from then pick up from other infrastructure projects."

Transparency and accountability is sine qua non for the Orange Walk Town Council. In order for the community to keep informed about the affairs of the municipality, the Council launched its new website owtc.bz.

Councilor Ian Cal- Orange Walk Town Council

"The main reason for this is to have that communication with the public and for us to have the information easily available to the community.  In our Orange Walk Town Council Website you will be able to see that we have a space for News & Press Release this is where you will find most of the information. We also have project which Councillor Carballo spoke a while ago, the projects you can easily come in there and see pictures of the projects that have been done the way we have been working and things that we want to be accomplish as well in the future. Again guys this is a major accomplishment that we felt it was necessary to bring about free flow of information to the public, you will be able to log in and see what your Town Council is doing at anytime of the day."

The website also has a section for residents to leave their suggestions or complainants.