Last Wednesday, August 16th, the Belize Mayor’s Association met with Honorable Said Musa, Prime Minister of Belize at Central Bank’s offices in Belize City. The financial situation of the Belize Municipality has been broadcasted all over the local media, however all nine municipalities around the country are experiencing the same problems.
Mayor Elsa Paz of San Pedro Town, President of the Mayor’s Association, commented to The Sun that the reason for the meeting was to discuss the mayors’ proposals to Central Government on how to improve the financial state of the city and town councils. The Mayors Association proposed that arrangements be made for revenue sharing from the Environmental Tax, urban traffic management by councils, and duty-free fuel for councils.
According to Mayor Paz, one of the biggest issues is the way the municipalities share the subvention set aside. Currently San Pedro Town receives a subvention of $69,000 while Belize City receives $1.5 million dollars. Even though the city receives $1.5 mil, on a per resident basis, the monthly subvention received is on the lower end of the range.
One of the propositions that the Mayors presented to Honorable Musa was the subvention distribution change. “We want all municipalities to receive the same amount of money. The revenue that we are receiving, all municipalities are receiving, is small. It definitely is not enough to sustain the towns and cities.”
Mayor Paz commented that a suggestion that Honorable Musa had was to raise Environmental Tax by one percent. This one percent would then be used as subvention for the municipalities. However, Paz commented that most mayors did not agree with this approach since they believe that Belizeans are “taxed out.”
The Government of Belize advised that in order for consideration of these or any other proposals, comprehensive study and analysis would be a pre-requisite for decision-making. Such study and analysis would be undertaken to determine the cost to manage municipalities, current and potential revenues, and the level of assistance necessary to provide the required services.
The Mayors admitted that their current revenue base, particularly property taxes and garbage fees, were not performing well, and they agreed to undertake the studies and analyses.
Prime Minister Honorable Said Musa said that both central and municipal governments were facing financial challenges and expressed his government’s strong willingness to support the cause for better municipal management.
On Saturday, the mayors will meet once more to decide on their next course of action before meeting with Prime Minister Musa.