Tonight the Belize City Council owes could be facing a strike by its waste collector, Belize Waste Control - and it could mean garbage piling up at your front door! 7news has confirmed that City Hall owes Belize Waste Control more than half a million dollars in arrears for municipal garbage collection. That's 14 weeks that the City hasn't paid and Mayor Darrell Bradley said that Waste Control will just have to wait, because right now the council just plain doesn't have the money to pay.
Bradley explains that this is what happens every year, and it evens out in late December into March, when taxes are paid into City Hall and that cash flow is used to even out the Waste Control arrears. But Waste Control says that this year's arrears are extreme - and are made even worse by the fact that a few of the weeks of arrears date back to 2012.
Whatever the case, City Hall says it can't pay and won't pay until December, while Waste Control says it's already had to send home 5 workers and could be getting ready to strike as early as Friday. That could be saber rattling or it could be for real, but the mayor says that the council has already paid Waste Control half a million dollars towards a court judgment, and it just doesn't have any more money to give Waste Control until December.
In fact, the sanitation contract with Belize Waste Control and Belize Maintenance Limited are two of the council's greatest recurrent costs - and last week, the mayor told us with relief that one of those contracts is going to be retired next year:...
Mayor Darrell Bradley
"Next year things will be much improved because one of the major sanitation contracts (BML contract), which we pay $78,000 per week on - that's going to come to an end and our view is that we will not renew this because this is a leech on our city and we will encourage residents of Belize to maintain a 2 feet perimeter in front of their property, so that if we don't replace that service the next council will have a 3 million dollar surplus because that's how much we pay on that contract in a year."
"Another good thing that will happen next November is that the first tranche of the municipal bond will be paid off. Within this term of office we are seeing one of the major sanitation contracts coming to an end, we are seeing that a first portion of the municipal bond will be paid off. That again is increase cash flow. We've paid off a 2 million dollar overdraft facility, so Belize City is the only municipality in the entire country that is operating overdraft free."
We also discussed with the mayor his political future. As we first told you in April of this year, Bradley intends to challenge UDP Area Representative Santino Castillo for the Caribbean Shores seat. No less than the Prime Minister has told Bradley to back off the Minister of state, and we heard that he would be doing so. But last week, Bradley told us he is still interested in the shores and is just waiting for the convention:...
"Will you still offer yourself as a candidate in the Caribbean Shores?"
Mayor Darrell Bradley
"I am still there. Actually we are on the ground. The campaign is not what I will call a hard campaign, meaning that we are doing door to door and doing a mass campaign because there is no declaration that there will be conventions at a certain point. There is no indication in terms of any of that. It's not a situation where you have an election next year or that kind of thing."
"We are campaigning so that we will be in a position to secure the nomination in convention, that's our strategy. I have a committee, they believe in me and they believe in the leadership that I could bring to the people of Caribbean Shores and I have made it a point that we are not campaigning against anyone. We are campaigning for something. I believe that I could offer a lot to the residents of Caribbean Shores."
And while he's running in the shores, Bradley might also be running into some problems with his UDP Colleague Mark King, the Area Representative for Lake I. 7news has received a printed copy of an email purporting to be sent by King to Bradley and it talks about a rift between the two. The language in the e-mail is stern, even curse words are used and it culminates in a threat, saying that King could bring down Bradley the same way he brought down his predecessor. Normally, we would relish the opportunity to go into the details, but the printed email has no email addresses printed on it, and King has firmly denied sending it, while the Mayor says he hasn't received it. So, for the time being, we'll chalk it up to political mischief-making.