Cutting Back The Discount
Another adjustment that some people might not be too happy with either is the discontinuation of the 20 percent discount for early property tax payment. In the past, those who paid their tax early, before its due in March and April got a 20 percent discount. Those off season inflows allowed the council to at least scrape by in the low season. Well, Wagner says that 20 percent is just too much. But he didn’t rule out a discount completely.
Bernard Wagner - Mayor of Belize City
"The 20% discount program effect; what are the facts? You ask what the facts are. This is a clipping from the minutes of these meetings. I didn't make this up. This is a clipping. The mayor stated that as a norm the council offers a discount for payment on property tax. The amount, normally, is 20% prior to December 1st and 15% made through December 31st, 10% made through January 1st to March 31st. The mayor asked that a vote be taken and whether to offer the discount, all councilors voted yes; ill-advised program. Now, the property tax roll for the 3 years for the council has averaged in the area of $10.5 million annually. That is the tax roll. That is what is there for you to collect but you have to collect it, right. So, you see it right there 2015, $10.1; 2016, $10.6; 2017, $10.7. Now, if you look at that, the council offers this 20% discount; you do the math. 20% of $10.4, you have a potential revenue loss of $2,080,000. That is a potential loss. I am not saying that is what will occur but potentially, when you do discount program, it is a simple math. If you have a dollar that means you are saying to your people, 'I only want to collect $0.80 for every dollar. So, what this council did, this previous council, instead of earning 65% of $10.4 million, which would have given them $6.7 million, the council chose the 20% discount program which reduced potential property tax revenues to $5.4 million. So, to replace the 20% discount program, what this council did, we established an overdraft at 8% from financial institutions to reduce financing cost and to augment our cash flow during the slow season. I always think that 8 is better than 20."
In April, the Mayor said they wanted to discontinue the discount program.