The Mayors' Association of Belize held its monthly meeting in San Pedro Town on Friday, April 24th, to discuss important issues affecting the association.
Present at the meeting were Mayors, Luis Manzanero of San Ignacio and Santa Elena Towns, Anthony Ramons, J.P. of Dangriga, Reynaldo Burgos of Orange Walk, Jorge Guerra of Benque Viejo del Carmen, Alberto Nuñez of San Pedro Town, Cornelio Acosta of Corozal, Deputy Mayor Marshal Nunez of the Belize City Council and other Deputy Mayors and Town Councilors from the districts.
The meeting was opened by His Worship Mayor Alberto Nuñez who gave the welcome address. The minutes of the previous meeting were presented, corrected and approved by the mayors and old matters arising from the minutes were addressed. The new matters were next on the agenda and a financial report was made by the treasurer. The mayors discussed the different departments that come under Central Government such as Traffic and Planning, that they believe should be the responsibility of the Town Boards. It was mentioned that a meeting was requested of the Sub-committee to discuss this concern. Deputy Mayor Marshal Nunez suggested that the Mayors pinpoint concerns that should be discussed by the Sub-committee. Suggestions included: Town Boards should be responsible for the Traffic Department and its revenue and Town Boards should have their own land evaluation personnel. Deputy Mayor Nunez said that political reform would bring about such changes and that it would be wise if they invited a lawyer to the next meeting of the Association to discuss the City Council and Town Board Acts. He also mentioned that if the Town Boards are to take on added responsibilities they should be able to prove to both governments that they are capable of being self-sustainable and efficient. Mayor Ramos suggested that all the Mayor and Deputies familiarize themselves with the Law before the next meeting. Deputy Mayor Nunez said that the City Council is doing well and has been able to collect over one million dollars in outstanding property taxes over the last year. He said that when he became Deputy Mayor that over eight million dollars was outstanding in property tax and now that amount is down to about six million. He said that one of his main concerns was to see that each Town Board obtains its own heavy duty equipment, such as a grader, in order to properly maintain town streets without having to depend on the Ministry of Works for equipment.
Businesses that do not pay Trade Licences were discussed. BTL, BEL and WASA were focused on. It was mentioned that the Government only has a small amount of shares in these businesses, they make millions of dollars a year and therefore should be able to afford to pay for a Trade Licence. Mayor Ramos said that in Dangriga the Town Board has to pay their phone bill yet BEL does not pay for a Trade Licence. Companies that provide cable services were also mentioned. The mayors agreed that while cable companies pay for a Broadcasting Licence they should also pay for a Trade License, because they are operating a money making business.
It was noted that there was no representative of the Punta Gorda (PG) Town Board present at the meeting. It was explained that the Mayor of PG could not afford to travel and that is why he had not been attended meetings. Mayor Burgos suggested that the mayors pay their dues on time so that they would have enough funds to provide the Mayor of PG with transportation money. The mayors were reminded that they won the Town Board Elections in March of last year by promising the people that they would work for the people. It was suggested that each mayor give a report on the projects carried out by his town board over the last year.
Mayor Acosta of Corozal said that his town board has built and improved parks, put up stop signs, improved culverts and garbage collection, placed garbage drums around the town and tended to land, constructed sleeping police men and is presently working on numbering the streets. He said that the long term plans presented to the people in their manifesto must wait until their party is in power.
Mayor Ramos of Dangriga said that he has divided the town into seven zones and that each councilor has his zone. So far two of the zones have been worked on and work on the others will commence. Drains have been cleared and streets graded and widened. He said that sanitation has improved greatly. The Dangriga Town Board will be holding their Municipal Fair on May 1st and 2nd and hopes to raise $40,000.00 to purchase trucks to use for sanitation purposes. Over 40 stop signs have been given to the Traffic Department who is responsible for positioning the signs throughout the town. The parks in Dangriga have been improved except the Benguche Park which will be undergoing major improvements in May; improvements included a thorough paint job and the installation of park lights. Mayor Ramos offered the other mayors use of their heavy equipment in exchange for other services and made it known that Dangriga has access to great quantities of sand which other towns may be in need of.
Mayor Burgos of Orange Walk said that his Town Board has installed traffic signs throughout the town and received much help from the Belize Sugar Industry. Drains have been maintained and garbage cans have been placed in town; parks have been cleaned and maintained. He said that much of the town's improvements would not have been possible without the assistance of the people in the town. They are working together to keep their town beautiful. Mayor Burgos announced that he was working along with the Governor of Chetumal Quintana Roo and the Untiversity of Chetumal to devise a Master Plan of the town in order to pinpoint problem areas. The Master Plan will be kept as a guide for future infrastructure projects.
Deputy Mayor of Belize City Marshal Nunez said that while he was not a part of a town board he would still give a report on the work the City Council has carried out in the City. He said that over the last year over 45 miles of street were improved, repaired or paved by the City Council; these improvements cost about $198,000.00. The drains have been improved in the Lake Independence and Belama Areas. The Queen Square Market and the Temporary Market on North Front Street have been improved and expanded. Name plates have been acquired and all the streets in Belize will receive a name plate. Deputy Nunez also mentioned that the City Council has established a monthly City Pride Award which is presented to the person who has contributed to keeping the City beautiful.
Mayor Manzanero of San Ignacio and Santa Elena said that due to the split Town Board he has been working with projects have been difficult to carry out. For the Annual Easter Municipal Fair, Mayor Manazanero reported that the Town Board made $8,000.00. $5,000.00 was used to purchase a truck for the Town Board and the remaining $3,000.00 was used to pay outstanding bills from the 1997 Fair totaling $6,000.00. A balance of $3,000.00 remains. He said that the labeling of streets has commenced and that they are planning another fair for the September celebrations. The profit made from the September Fair will go towards purchasing a compact truck; the Town Board presently has only one. He concluded his report by saying that his Town Board has made a full report to the people of Cayo and that he and his four councilors are working hard.
Mayor Alberto Nuñez of San Pedro Town reported that his town board has collected almost all outstanding land taxes, has purchase a used pick-up truck and has finished paying for their grader and bulldozer. The Ferry and ferry area have been improved and the parks in town have been renovated. Mayor Nuñez concluded by announcing that the Town Board would be receiving a new trailer which will be used to pick up garbage.
Mayor Guerra of Benque Viejo del Carmen said that from the Annual Benque Viejo Fair they made a profit of $20,000.00. 50 new garbage drums would placed throughout the town. They have received assistance from J & L Truck Service to assist people with the transport of white mall for the upkeep of their properties and streets. He reported that they have been having a problem with garbage collection but that they will be receiving a new truck shortly and the problem will be remedied.
The mayors discussed a training course to be conducted by English officials for Mayors and Town Clerks from June 4th to June 7th, 1998. The meeting concluded with the setting of the date for the next Mayors' Association Meeting. The next Association meeting will be held on Saturday, May 20th in Corozal Town.
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