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New Dock Tax? Ouch!

Posted By: flip flop

New Dock Tax? Ouch! - 04/12/08 07:34 PM

Has anyone else heard about this or am I way behind on the latest???? This was in San Pedro Daily online....

Private Investigator: Dock Taxes
Q: The San Pedro Town Council (SPTC) is lobbying government to implement a new dock tax to be collected yearly by the SPTC. This tax will run anywhere from $5,000 for a residential dock up to $25,000 for a commercial dock. I think homeowners and business owners have a right to know what is going on and was thinking maybe you could find out the details and print it in your paper. Although, I have numerous concerns about this, the top problems I see is:
1. How is the town going to spend this new revenue of 100’s of thousands of dollars? They are saying to reverse environmental damage. Really?
2. Dive and tour companies with docks will have to increase their rates to make up for the astronomical 25K every year. Tour rates are already very expensive and tour companies with docks on the front of the island will have a disadvantage to companies that dock on the back side (the town is suggesting little or no tax for lagoon docks probably because they are all owned by locals with not much money).
A: You are right, on April 4th, 2008, the San Pedro Town Council sent a letter to Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment Honorable Gaspar Vega. “For many years, San Pedro Town has had to cope with all the abuse and exploitation of our natural resources. The excess of piers and structures on crown land are causing beach erosions, damages to the reef and even pollution by those restaurants and spas that are constructed on these piers. In an effort to alleviate, control and possibly discontinue this practice, the San Pedro Town Council under recommendation of our Local Building Authority proposes that an impact fee be implemented. This impact fee is in an effort to not only discourage any new requests for piers but also to discourage the existing piers to be reconstructed after a natural disaster.
Therefore, the San Pedro Town Council cordially requests your Ministry’s assistance to authorizing the Council to charge this impact fees. The rates being proposed are as follows:
*Piers – between $5,000 and $15,000
*Structure – between $15,000 and $20,000
The exact rate will be determined by the size of the pier or the structure and on the damage it causes. The Council and the Local Building Authority both believe that the fee is minimal considering the damage and risks our natural resources are experiencing.”
Once approved, the monies garnered will be collected by the offices of the SPTC and will be used for a Beach Nourishment Project which is scheduled to begin as soon as possible. This project is aimed at reclaiming our beaches in the Town Core (Boca del Rio to Victoria House), as well as to curb the erosion presently occurring.
The Nourishment Project will use Geotubes which have been successfully used in over 50 countries. The Geotube technology has been used to stop storm damage, protect the environment, build custom structures, and even build islands where they didn’t exist before. Geotube containment technology is a proven, cost-effective method for a variety of shoreline protection and marine construction projects and was developed using input from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Once installed, it is the Council’s hope that the Boca del Rio Park beach, an area that has seen massive damage in the last few months, will be extended up to three times what it is now.
According to Chairman of the Ambergris Caye Local Building Authority Deputy Mayor Juan Alamilla, pier owners to the west side of San Pedro Town will be charged minimal fees. However, the priority lies on the east side and the effects that piers are having there. “Once we have established the fees for the East, we will move on to the West and begin processing them accordingly,” he ended.
For further information, kindly contact Chairman Juan Alamilla at number (602) 3859. Read More...
Posted By: SFJeff

Re: New Dock Tax? Ouch! - 04/12/08 08:32 PM

Hmmm... wow.

This is pretty interesting... there has always been an annual "dock permit fee" but this will increase that by about 10X... It will be interesting to see who (and using what criteria) will assess exactly "how much dammage an existing dock is causing."

...and for people living/working north of town, having a pier (and rebuilding it after a storm) is somewhat a necessity... it's your driveway. Perhaps the SPTC should put revenues from this new tax towards constructing/maintaining a road up north then people would be less dependent upon water transportation (that of course, has its own implications impact-wise.)

And what about the env. impact of Geotubes (basically high tech jetty's) and seawalls with respect to currents, setiment, etc. How about an annual Seawall tax??? It's difficult to imagine that a 5' high rock covered Geotube jetty by Boca Del Rio is going to enhance the beach experience there...

...this all certainly opens a can of worms.

Posted By: flip flop

Re: New Dock Tax? Ouch! - 04/12/08 08:39 PM

I can only imagine how much my HOA fees will go up!
Posted By: Anonymous

Re: New Dock Tax? Ouch! - 04/12/08 09:32 PM

Sounds a good way to kill off the diving tourist industry, which is the basis for all SP tourism, which is in turn the breadbasket for all of Belize. Are they on the same planet as the rest of us?

Point of detail - I don't see anywhere in the answer that it's an ANNUAL tax. It reads to me as a one-off.
Posted By: SP Daily

Re: New Dock Tax? Ouch! - 04/12/08 09:35 PM

"The San Pedro Town Council (SPTC) is lobbying government to implement a new dock tax to be collected yearly by the SPTC."
Posted By: flip flop

Re: New Dock Tax? Ouch! - 04/12/08 11:45 PM

Your right pedro2....added cost of doing business could be as much as $35,000 PER YEAR for some businesses.

There's no way you could pass on that much added expense to the customers.

Everybody would be affected - businesses, customers, homeowners, even condo owners (like me) who have a large dock and seawall out front.

Posted By: RathaBnBelize

Re: New Dock Tax? Ouch! - 04/13/08 01:41 AM

.... nothing against them for raising money from a variety of sources...looks like they want to raise it all from ONE source. Its not going to help the other situation...everyone being able to use the dock. I don't have one, but if someone didn't want others to use their dock I would certainly understand given the taxes they have to pay on it.
Posted By: SFJeff

Re: New Dock Tax? Ouch! - 04/13/08 06:20 AM

So correct me if I'm wrong, but the above mentioned "Geotubes" are basically large/strong fabric "tubes" or containers that are filled with dredged up materials/sludge... the water drains out, solids stay inside... they're used to make jetty's and sea walls...

See http://www.geotubes.com/marine/marine_index.html for some pics of areas where they have been used.

So the SPTC is planning on assessing a tax on EXISTING piers, in part for the "environmental impact" they are having, then they will take that $ to purchase large bags to be filled with material dredged up to try to prevent erosion.

Brilliant.

May I ask what happens to the beach/water SOUTH of any constructed Geotube where the water will stagnate? Go look at the water in front of any seawall on the island and let me know how attractive you think it is? Go on, wade around in it and let me know...

Jetty's and seawalls (Geotubes or whatever you might name them) do little to "protect the environment" as suggested above. They protect property. Beaches and shorelines are fluid... There is a constant ebb and flow back and forth. Beaches erode and change, that's what they do. If the SPTC is trying to prevent flooding and protect property, sure, put up jetty's and seawalls... If you're trying to "nourish" the beaches, dump a bit of sand on them, spread it out, enjoy it and yes, watch it probably wash away... then do it all over again.

Posted By: Don Greife

Re: New Dock Tax? Ouch! - 04/13/08 02:44 PM

Hey,,, why sweat it,,, In 20 years it will all be under 20' of water,, the ice bergs are melting.
Posted By: Diane Campbell

Re: New Dock Tax? Ouch! - 04/13/08 03:16 PM

Probably those folks who have ideas and/or strong views on this subject should contact the officials who make decisions ---

BTW - I've seen one geo-tube in place on the island and it seems to have worked pretty nicely. i don't like sea walls, but this geo-tube was essentially invisible and did not have the stagnant pools etc that one might fear.
Posted By: natalie p

Re: New Dock Tax? Ouch! - 04/13/08 03:47 PM

Does anyone know the cost of the geotubes?
Posted By: JZB

Re: New Dock Tax? Ouch! - 04/13/08 03:48 PM

If San Pedro doesn't want so many piers, they should just stop issuing illegal permits! Seems fairly simple to me.

I would like to see how they determine how much damage a pier is causing to the environment to assess the tax on each pier. THAT is going to be interesting!

Is the barge landing down south excluded from the tax? I would like to hear someone try and tell me that it is not causing environmental damage or that it is not included in the new proposal. mad
Posted By: Diane Campbell

Re: New Dock Tax? Ouch! - 04/13/08 07:02 PM

JZB - good points -
I'm very curious about the barge landing item you mention ......... please check that out and report to us?

While I support a sensible limit on piers (which we used to have by the way) I think this tax is horrifically high and poorly proposed.

Posted By: Amanda Syme

Re: New Dock Tax? Ouch! - 04/14/08 12:50 PM

I have a 100 ft pier that has been charged $800 Bz per year to maintain the permit. I did not dredge to install the pier as it was placed to take advantage of the natural depth of the water and growth of the seaweed. I realize that not all new piers are lucky enough to have mother nature's cooperation.

However, people that dredged to put in their piers spent thousands to dredge. When the sea gets rough the sand has to be moved again and again. Where ever dredging occurs the impact of this work is felt by the reef, the neighbours to the north and to the south. Why would somebody feel that he NEEDS a pier and therefore he is willing to spend the money on his needs - but all around him be damned! Why should others, and especially our environment suffer due to the actions of others with no form of protection and repayment for the damage that then occurs. We all know that once on neighbour puts in a seawall the next neighbour in line has to do so in order to protect his beach erosion, and that goes on and on down the line... The people that were forced to put in a seawall because of his neighbours action didn't get reimbursed and has now passed his problem on to the next guy in line.

Some of our neighbouring properies dredged so significantly that we have new high wave action and currents. I am concerned about what will happen when we get some real high seas again. But who pays for the damage when the neighbours receive serious erosion? Not the guy that did the dredging and put in his seawall!

We have a few geotubes installed on the island that you could walk over and have no idea what is under your feet. They can be intergrated into the environment in a manner that prevents them from being seen and yet in a manner that truly protects the shoreline. The sand that is put into these tubes does not have to be dredged. The tubes can be buried along the shoreline and the sand displaced to bury the tube is the sand that can be used to fill the tube.

For the rates to go up by 50 - 100% overnight is a little outrageous. I would think that a one time Big Fee might be assessed on pier applications, and then a more manageable annual fee be levied. Just like the tax on property transfer and ownership. We pay a one time big stamp duty on the transfer of land/condos etc and then a smaller more manageable fee each year.

The ideas that that Town council are putting up are understandable but there are some steps they might want to take first.

There is no legislation governing piers. Therefore there cannot be any "illegal" piers. We have some rough guidelines that the town tends to follow and sometimes the guidelines are enforced and sometimes they are not.

Step one would be to make a legal statutory instrument governing piers - then everybody would know the rules and regulations and would be required to comply.

The only reason I put my pier in was because there are no rules regulating the piers. I couldn't "make" a neighbour "let" me use his pier, nor would I want to. Who would maintain the pier? Who would provide security, lighting, electrical and water hookups? Would somebody be constantly parking in my spot each time I decided to go out? If we had community piers that were operated co-operatively the beach front would be more attractive, the existing piers would be well maintained and secure and everybody would be able to enjoy the seashore. The rates could be standardized and regulated.

Yes, it all sounds like too many laws, rules and taxes, but when a community grows so exponetially rules have to be laid down or chaos will conquer.

Is there a logical and affordable solution to this problem?
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