On Friday night the Orange Walk Town Council held an open town meeting at the Central Park where residents were informed about the accomplishments of the council so far. Since Mayor Kevin Bernard and his councilors took office back in March, Orange Walk has undergone numerous changes despite the financial constraints of the council. Those achievements were outlined by each of the councilors staying in line with their respective portfolios. The first to take the podium was Councilor Ladrick Sheppard in charge of Youths and Sports.

Ladrick Sheppard- Councilor

"We started with football, it is an under twelve competition which I adopted which was sponsored by Old Fashion Lemonade and it has been quite successful.  We have gotten the attraction from most of the villages to come over to Orange Walk and participate in it, namely from Carmelita, Chan Pine Ridge, these are the young students that came over to participate and the age that these guys are playing football are basically kids twelve and under.  Well, like I said this has not been an easy task for me but it is something that I have been doing for many years and I continue working with the youths."

When it comes to the portfolio of Women Affairs, Culture and Tourism, much has been accomplished by Councilor Rozel Arana. Courses in cosmetology, beading, cake decoration and pastry making have empowered women of Orange Walk. Another project that is in the pipeline comes in partnership with WIN Belize and the Orange Women's Department whereby women will be further educated on their rights. In the sector of Tourism, the aim is to include Orange Walk in the list of tourism destinations.

Rosel Arana- Councilor

"What the community is about, here in Orange Walk our Moto highlights when we are entering, we want to highlight what signifies our community, we need to build a monument WELCOME TO ORANGE WALK, and have that displayed near the Coca Cola where we have that roundabout, when we are coming in from Corozal have a monument there representing who we are as Orange Walkenos.  Brochures, signs, planning study, clean-up campaigns, beautifications, tree planting and even having nurseries is a start and from there we start do develop our community to be one of the most beautiful and eventually tourist will say you know what let's stay in Orange Walk. One thing we have on our side here in Orange Walk, we have Mr Orlando de la Fuente, who is a board member at BTB so we are linking with BTB and we are liking with BTIA, Mr Osmani Salas and his team I am pretty sure we could make Orange Walk the best community there is to be."

With the council experiencing financial constraints, the department of Sanitation has put some strain on the ruling body. Nevertheless, the work is getting done, according to Councilor in charge of Sanitation, playgrounds, NGO's, Civil Society and Cemetery, Jose Urbina.

Screen_shot_2012-10-29_at_7.45.57_PMJose Urbina- Councilor

"When we look at the amount of fuel being consumed on a daily basis and the values I have up in the screen are the average values, the average fuel consumption, we are speaking about 82 gallons per day and with the prices of fuel nowadays it means that the average daily operation are extremely high, we are speaking of approximately $900.00 per day.  When we look at this value we immediately say it is not self-sustainable, the weekly average operational costs to maintain these trucks in and out we are speaking of about 400 gallons of diesel, a total average cost of approximately $4600.00 per week.  To summarize our monthly expenses $37,500.00 our revenue stream $4,500.00 and the deficit approximately $33,100.00 a month."

With such a huge deficit, the council has found the need to improve revenue streams to further subsidize the Sanitation Department.

Jose Urbina- Councilor

"The proposal we are stating and of course we will have further consultations with the people in our different zone meetings coming up next month is to increase the garbage disposal fees for businesses and of course in these consultation phases in the zone meetings we will present to you all what other municipalities are being charged, what other businesses are being charged and how much we are currently charging in Orange Walk and what is the propose increase we need.  We are also thinking to implement a residential garbage fee, if I am not mistaken Orange Walk is the only district that does not have this in place and when we way we want to implement a residential garbage fee is not going to be an exaggerated amount of money that we will charging on a monthly basis, however, you will be getting more information on this during the consultation phase.  Another initiative that we will be proposing is the go-green initiative, recycling, this is something that was proposed to us during our campaign phase and it is something that we can us to further generate revenue for the sanitation department.  From a basic analysis we did, along with a recycling company of Belize, they are proposing to do the following prices; for mixed garbage they are proposing $0.07 per pound and for sorted out garbage they are proposing $0.14 per pound.  The amount of garbage being generated in Orange Walk on a monthly basis is on an average of about 80,000 pounds of garbage, now assuming that we considered 60% of that garbage recyclable material for mixed garbage we are talking about approximately $23,000.00 revenue stream into the council and for sorted out garbage we are talking about approximately $27,000.00 per month."

We'll have more on the open town meeting in tomorrow's newscast.