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North Island Labourers complain about bridge fees

Posted By: Marty

North Island Labourers complain about bridge fees - 08/15/16 06:19 PM

Every day, thousands of people use the bridge either for leisure, to get home, and even go to work. Many residents work on that part of the island, which is home to several beach resorts and restaurants. According to those workers, a big chunk of their salary goes towards the bridge toll, and they are appealing to the local authorities to please have some consideration on them. Many of these labourers claim that the bridge has already paid itself, thus, there is no reason to continue paying the toll, while others suggest that since they use the bridge to get to their working areas, the fee should not apply to them.

In response, Mayor Daniel Guerrero told The San Pedro Sun that the fee will continue to be applied to everyone across the board. He stated that in order to keep the bridge functioning properly, and providing the adequate maintenance necessary, funds must be raised and the toll is one of the sources for it. “We cannot eliminate that fee, we could maybe reduce it, but not stop it,” said Guerrero. “People need to also realize that when they pay their fee to cross the bridge, they are at the same time contributing to their own community. The funds collected from the toll are spent on projects within the island, so there is a purpose to keep the fee.”

The SPTC is working on investing in a computerized system to better serve the commuters that use the bridge, however, the Mayor emphasized that the toll will continue. “We cannot operate without it; it’s another source of income for the municipality,” ended Guerrero.

Click here to read the rest of the article and see photos in the San Pedro Sun

Posted By: larrypied

Re: North Island Labourers complain about bridge fees - 08/15/16 07:18 PM

Mayor Danny should reconsider this. Maybe raise property tax a few cents would be a smarter idea
Posted By: Hon

Re: North Island Labourers complain about bridge fees - 08/16/16 01:13 AM

Originally Posted by larrypied
Mayor Danny should reconsider this. Maybe raise property tax a few cents would be a smarter idea


In 2014 my property tax was raised 300%. That should pay for one helluva lot of tolls.

Posted By: Amanda Syme

Re: North Island Labourers complain about bridge fees - 08/16/16 01:41 AM

What is the cost of a bridge pass these days? I think it is pedestrians, free, bicycles $1 each way, golf carts and small tav's $5 each way and then taxis are around $10 each way, heavy trucks are closer to $30 each way.

I would think perhaps bikes and pedestrians could be no charge.

Perhaps an affordable pass for folks that go over the bridge each day...
Posted By: larrypied

Re: North Island Labourers complain about bridge fees - 08/16/16 06:09 AM

Especially since most of the businesses are located South of the bridge. The North Siders need to traverse the bridge to reach these.
Posted By: Diane Campbell

Re: North Island Labourers complain about bridge fees - 08/16/16 11:18 AM

I think the fees are excessive.
And I know that not everybody pays.
Posted By: Jameela01

Re: North Island Labourers complain about bridge fees - 08/16/16 12:12 PM

I was told by my San Mateo friend that residents there do not have to pay? Is this correct? If this is true, how would the toll taker know every person that lives there? I agree Diane, I see everyday people passing without being checked. I've also never seen a bicyclist pay?
Posted By: ragman

Re: North Island Labourers complain about bridge fees - 08/16/16 04:08 PM

I used to always use a monthly pass when I was living in the North. Probably went over the bridge 4 times on a busy day. The people who take the tolls know who has monthly passes so I was usually waived through. Maybe once or twice a week I was checked. This is probably what you see when people go through without being checked. Many times if someone usually a tourist was stopped in front of me paying the toll I would go around them, sometimes waived through by a traffic officer or I went around on my own.

The Bridge tolls hurt the resorts in the North I believe. The tourist do not like having to stop and pay so I believe some avoid north of the bridge both to stay and to frequent restaurants and such. I have always felt that finding another way to make up this money would be preferable but the town is always short on money and it would be a hard sell. I knew there was a plan kicking around to increase real estate taxes and if that poster taxes went up 300% like he says I guess it went into effect. The town has realized for some time now that there was a great potential to raise some money from all the condos which were built in the last several years. Can't say I blame them and most would not mind as long as the money is used properly. Mayor Danny does a good job especially when compared to the past in my opinion.
Posted By: SimonB

Re: North Island Labourers complain about bridge fees - 08/16/16 05:23 PM

Honestly, I have never seen a single person on foot or on bicycle pay a toll at the bridge. I know I never paid a toll while on a bike...

On a cart, I pay the toll either by month or by use, seems fair to me.
Posted By: joekerland

Re: North Island Labourers complain about bridge fees - 08/16/16 06:27 PM

I stayed North of the bridge for the first time this year. To be honest, on a 2 week trip, I really should have bought one of the monthly passes. It would have paid for itself quickly. While I hate tolls in general (lol who doesn't), I can understand the need to generate income to keep the bridge maintained. But, I also understand and agree that it shouldn't come on the backs of those who live south but work North of the bridge. If property taxes went up 300%, is there any way to find out what that tax increase was meant to fund?

A suggestion I might make is to offer 1 week or half month passes that are discounts off the regular $5 per crossing price - say 1 dollar off for a week and 2 off for 2 weeks... The tough part though in any new implementation of toll fee changes is how to make sure the right fee(s) get charged to the right people.

Also agree that people on bikes shouldn't have to pay.
Posted By: ragman

Re: North Island Labourers complain about bridge fees - 08/16/16 11:27 PM

I don't think I've ever seen anyone pay for a bike and certainly not on foot. Occasionally I believe a tourist will pay for a bike but most people just bike by. I've heard several times from locals that they are not expected to pay for a bike. I believe if you own property North you are exempt but I'm not sure. At any rate no one attempts to collect from bikes unless you present yourself for payment.

In the last several years many locals who work or live in the north now own motor cycles and carts. Just how that is handled I do not know. I have a good idea however.
Posted By: larrypied

Re: North Island Labourers complain about bridge fees - 08/17/16 08:48 AM

Your idea?
Posted By: Diane Campbell

Re: North Island Labourers complain about bridge fees - 08/17/16 01:29 PM

Originally Posted by larrypied
Your idea?


Stare straight ahead and go through is their idea. Honestly, the fee is so high I don't blame them.
I haven't driven US bridges in a long time but would hazzard a guess that no bridge 500 feet long charges $5 US round trip for a mini-car.

Apparently big trucks pay a fortune when/if they pay. Our last delivery bill from Caribbean Queen contained a line item of $1,500 for bridge fees. I choked.



Posted By: larrypied

Re: North Island Labourers complain about bridge fees - 08/17/16 05:02 PM

Yes. This could be an election issue. "If I am elected elected mayor my first item is to abolish the bridge fee"!
Posted By: ragman

Re: North Island Labourers complain about bridge fees - 08/18/16 12:22 AM

And would your second item be laying off town workers? I guess you could save money by not fixing the streets or picking up the trash.

Seriously, money is in short supply and free cash flow is low or non-existent. I think it is a struggle to make the payroll at times. I too do not like the bridge tolls and I have already stated how I believe they hurt the North but I also know that there isn't a lot of room to maneuver. Getting the town to give up a source of revenue is going to be "a long row to hoe". In several cities I'm familiar with in the USA there are many services and other expenditures which you could play with some. Here not so, I believe. You basically have trash pick up and fixing the roads. Police are National; education is not public education; the city doesn't take care of the poor that I know of so just where can you cut? It may be there but if it is I doubt it is of much consequence. If anyone has other information I would love to read it.
Posted By: Jameela01

Re: North Island Labourers complain about bridge fees - 08/18/16 12:56 AM

My 2 cents worth is.......keep the toll, but have a system in place where EVERY motorized vehicle has to pay, no exceptions, and quit letting locals just fly by, so not fair. The $$ generated from the bridge is needed, I live North and have no problem purchasing a monthly pass.
Posted By: Shyboy

Re: North Island Labourers complain about bridge fees - 08/18/16 01:22 AM

I agree with Ragman ( as usual). My only "complaint" is that I used to purchase 5 or 10 tickets in advance so that I wouldn't have to stop and get out every time. This really slows down traffic. I don't need a months pass but would like to buy a book of 21 tickets (or 20) for $100bz... I've heard various reasons for the change 8 +/- months ago but none of them make any sense.
Posted By: ScubaLdy

Re: North Island Labourers complain about bridge fees - 08/19/16 02:28 PM

Maybe there should be two separate toll booths; one on each side of the bridge - each for a different direction. This would eliminate the snarls at the current location.

Also, one should not have to get off the cart in order to pay.

Maybe those of us who buy passes could have some sort of ID on our cart so that those paying one trip at a time see that we are not 'just flying through'.

A good brainstorming session could come up with a good workable solution.
Posted By: larrypied

Re: North Island Labourers complain about bridge fees - 08/19/16 05:32 PM

Great suggestions. We have dialog going here. I suggest a decal attached to the vehicle. Weekly, Monthly, Yearly passes should be issued. It would keep one of the bridge tenders busy selling them. I'm sure the local print shop could supply these. Then place one traffic Control person at one end of the bridge to collect day fees. A stopping area would be smart as to not hold up traffic. The tourists renting carts would pay to for the bridge in year! After that It could be rename the "Mayor Danny Memorial Bridge"! Problem solved!
Posted By: elbert

Re: North Island Labourers complain about bridge fees - 08/19/16 06:59 PM

I like the North Pass idea we who live North of the bridge could have it tattooed on our butts and show it to the Mayor Danny Memorial Bridge Troll as we pass.
Posted By: Diane Campbell

Re: North Island Labourers complain about bridge fees - 08/19/16 08:01 PM

oh yuck.
Posted By: larrypied

Re: North Island Labourers complain about bridge fees - 08/19/16 09:15 PM

Do you have a local tattoo artist to recommend?
Posted By: ragman

Re: North Island Labourers complain about bridge fees - 08/19/16 11:06 PM

Originally Posted by elbert
I like the North Pass idea we who live North of the bridge could have it tattooed on our butts and show it to the Mayor Danny Memorial Bridge Troll as we pass.


Ha, that reminds me of days of old when I was in the military where I saw a few humorous tattoos in odd places. Several of the guys had tattoos on their butts. It was a government looking stamp which read, "USDA Gov. Inspected Meat." smile
Posted By: Phil

Re: North Island Labourers complain about bridge fees - 08/20/16 03:16 PM

Soon forgot the gratitude of getting a road when a ton of other areas that would have serviced a lot more people didn't get one......
Posted By: ragman

Re: North Island Labourers complain about bridge fees - 08/20/16 11:45 PM

Phil, I don't know the exact number but there must be in excess of 1,000 condo units north of the bridge and many private homes which bring much money, jobs and taxes to San Pedro. Many workers are much more prosperous now than they were even 5 or 6 years ago.

Until the road was put in what did the north get in return? I'll tell you. No water or sewer; no trash pick up; little police protection; no street lights and what road repairs (if you want to call what we had a road) where usually paid for by the residents. In addition security on that road at night was a much bigger problem than most people realize because not many people talked about it. That was with locals and occasionally tourist. The old road was in one word....TERRIBLE. The "new" road of course has caused other problems but they are small in comparison.

I have no complaints the way the bridge is set up now but I know that the tourist do not like it. The road came about because the government saw the need for it for the good of the whole country. Yes, it took a while for them to realize this but the important part is they did. The complaints I've heard here are minor and I look at it more as a detriment for tourist than those of us that live or have lived in the north. Providing jobs and giving the government more money to hopefully make improvements benefited many that live in other parts of town. And that is a fact.

If the water and sewer plant is ever built, the resorts and residents who are initially served will pay for it over the long term and other poorer areas will eventually benefit and get tired in. The benefits will be to the environment, health and the economy of the whole Island. It could never happen at all if not done this way because only the residents of the north have the money to accomplish this in the north. The need is to attract what makes improvements to everyone.

Be a little patient with the minor gripes and try to look at the big picture. wink
Posted By: elbert

Re: North Island Labourers complain about bridge fees - 08/21/16 12:12 AM

Originally Posted by larrypied
Do you have a local tattoo artist to recommend?

If I'm going to have to expose my derrière to a tattoo Artist It will have to be Madison Stone.
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?...YYzxS4jAAwZI76E4pEgKiKtnFPRR&theater
Posted By: elbert

Re: North Island Labourers complain about bridge fees - 08/21/16 12:46 AM

On a serious note about the bridge, It has paid for itself and should now be free and not an income machine for the Town Board. If they need money they could get it from fixing the property tax department. Property tax is a fair tax and a bridge tax hurts the poor people who are struggling.
Posted By: ScubaLdy

Re: North Island Labourers complain about bridge fees - 08/21/16 03:40 AM

Jim I love you but disagree with why the road was built on the north end instead of in more needed areas: $$$ from and to the right people.
The resorts are saving a bundle by not having to provide boat transportation and they did not reduce their rates.

and new golf cart companies opened up and all are taking in $$$.

What's done is done and now some other areas are getting attention. But as long as there is no reporting on income And expenses by project no one can say for certain whether the money is needed for the bridge or used elsewhere.

Posted By: larrypied

Re: North Island Labourers complain about bridge fees - 08/21/16 08:53 AM

Well let's see. At $5 a pop one way that's $10 round-trip. The bridge is about 150 feet long. That is 0.06666 cents per foot traveled. If 200 vehicles travel the bridge in one day that is 1999.9 $ per day. In one year it is $7,300,000 dollars Belizean. Deduct the cost of a bridge attendant, well you get my drift. In two years time you could build a two-lane bridge with walk/bike path. The bridge should last a minimum of twenty years. There would still be plenty of money to go out to other projects and yes there should be accountability. P.S. I didn't take into account the extra charges for big trucks or taxi's!
Posted By: Johnhenry

Re: North Island Labourers complain about bridge fees - 08/21/16 09:03 AM

Larry, I think your calculation is incorrect. At BZ$ 10 for a return trip would generate BZ$ 730,000 per yer and not BZ$ 7,300,000.
Posted By: ragman

Re: North Island Labourers complain about bridge fees - 08/21/16 01:41 PM

Originally Posted by ScubaLdy
Jim I love you but disagree with why the road was built on the north end instead of in more needed areas: $$$ from and to the right people.
The resorts are saving a bundle by not having to provide boat transportation and they did not reduce their rates.

and new golf cart companies opened up and all are taking in $$$.

What's done is done and now some other areas are getting attention. But as long as there is no reporting on income And expenses by project no one can say for certain whether the money is needed for the bridge or used elsewhere.

smile I love you too but don't let Phoebe know. Next time I stop by Bird Land we can talk about it but not here. I will say that all you have to do is go to the different resorts websites at the time before the new road and read the reviews. I read many of them as it pertained to my duties. Tourist were not happy with the road and the boat trips get a little old in the rain and wind. Not that I think boats were used very often until you got up to say Capt. Morgan's.

When the conference facilities opened at Grand Caribe, which is located on the floor below Rain Restaurant there were many conferences with ministers from all over Central America attending. Of course there were also many government officials from Belize. The same happened with conferences at Coco Beach to a lesser extent. When they observed the condition of the road first hand, especially after a few days of rain is when the need for a road became very apparent to them.

Your example of the golf cart companies is perfect. They made money and paid taxes. The people using the golf carts went into town and spent money on gifts and in restaurants. They were not trapped at the resorts because of the road conditions. Over all the road caused an increase in tourist visiting the north side of the Island. I've seen the numbers this increased all economic activity like Marbucks, Italian Restaurant and the Truck Stop to name a few.

Now private home owners like yourself have a different view of all this activity and I understand and respect that. It is not the same as when you first moved up there but change was inevitable because people who visited liked it as much as you which opened opportunities to make money. This is the way the world works. wink

One other thing. Rates that the resorts charge are based on one thing and one thing only. It is not how they saved a relatively small amount on boat transportation. It is based on what customers are willing to pay and what the competition charges. Actually it is more complicated than that but marketing is not my forte, I'm an engineer and had trouble staying awake during those discussions. Again the Government of Belize get a cut of total revenues so the country benefits. (10% hotel tax on short term rentals, if I remember correctly) They also audit frequently.
Posted By: Diane Campbell

Re: North Island Labourers complain about bridge fees - 08/21/16 01:50 PM

I loved the old "boat access only" lifestyle, and it worked when there were 50 people living full-time north of the river.
With a growing north island population (and face it, most of the island is north of the cut) the idea that every family or entity needs a boat for all transport would mean further/severe destruction of the marine environment and totally unmanageable/unsafe levels of traffic in the sea. Plus there is practically no place left in town to park a boat for those who rely on one for transport from remote places.
Posted By: Decompression

Re: North Island Labourers complain about bridge fees - 08/21/16 07:24 PM

I'm a little late to the party here but...I have never even thought of stopping to pay a toll on my bike. I just roll through.
Am I a deviant?
DC


Posted By: ragman

Re: North Island Labourers complain about bridge fees - 08/21/16 08:48 PM

No, you sound normal but are you thinking about getting a tattoo on your butt? If so a reassessment might be in order. wink
Posted By: elbert

Re: North Island Labourers complain about bridge fees - 08/21/16 09:37 PM

grin
Posted By: champion

Re: North Island Labourers complain about bridge fees - 08/21/16 10:34 PM

I always thought that bikes and pedestrian traffic was free of charge. It was on the pull barge.
Posted By: Decompression

Re: North Island Labourers complain about bridge fees - 08/21/16 11:05 PM

No. The few that I have are in the usual places. ;-)

DC
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