CitCo Responds to Concerns of FSTV Stakeholders
On Thursday, a group of stakeholders in the Fort George Tourism Zone voiced strong objections to a proposed three hundred dollar fee for rent that will be levied by the Belize City Council for use of its facilities. Vendors are beside themselves following an announcement that CitCo is considering implementing the new fee at the beginning of the financial year. Technically, that regime should take effect on Saturday. But, because there are obvious constraints pertaining to the arrival and spending power of cruise tourists, Mayor Darrell Bradley says he is open to discussing a lower rate.
Darrell Bradley, Belize City Mayor
“Currently the persons occupy City Council space free of cost and we’re saying that the new direction is for us to have Memorial Park open up in the area that it was designed and that will have a cost. The cost should be borne by the people who are using the area, so that if you’re using the area you’ll have to pay. But if the conversation is that well things are hard, times are bad then come to us with some proposal to say okay then, let’s put this in half or let’s do a reduction, let’s deal with something that is affordable and we are fully amenable to that. But the bottom line is that if you want sustainability in the area, it has to be borne by the people who benefit most from that community and they have to pay. We are considering reasonable fees and we are prepared to discuss the quantum of those fees, but it has to be on the table that the people who use the area and benefit from the security, the oversight, the management, they have to contribute.”
“Do these changes come into effect on April first? Can you speak to the timeline for these changes?”
“We were planning on bringing in force the fees at the start of the fiscal year which is April first. Clearly if we’re still in negotiations with people in that community, it cannot be that that is the case, especially if we are not fixed in relation to the amount of the fees.”
The council is in the process of reviewing the proposed rental and operation fees for business owners within the zone. Until the council goes back to stakeholders with the revised fees, no charges will be applied.