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Nov 8, 2018

Payment Plans to Clear Off the City’s Debts

City Hall has been looking for creative ways to generate income and pay its bills. The council inherited huge bills, some directly related to electioneering in the elections of March 2018.  The mayor and his deputy have developed payment plans to clear off debts as well as tighten up on collections.  But the cost to run the city is high, so they are ploughing along to make sure that the city runs smoothly and that they can deliver on services. Deputy Mayor Oscar Arnold explains.

 

Oscar Arnold

Oscar Arnold, Deputy Mayor, Belize City Council

“In the first three months of the year, you receive almost sixty-four percent of your annual revenue; that was gone, that was spent. In addition to that, there was a four million-dollar accounts payable at the end of February that this council also inherited. So we had to meet with quite a bit of creditors and try to programme and schedule out payments. Some of those have been cancelled, some of those still remain on the books because they were larger electioneering expenses that were undertaken by the previous council. We all operate in a city, a lot of people pay their trade license, they pay their property taxes and it is unfair to say that I won’t live up or honour a bill because it was a previous council. That is the type of politics that we wanted to get away from and that is not my style. However, we have to make sure that the council remains viable and can continue with its operations. Realistically, what we would have wanted to see is that over the years, you would have monies set aside and provisions for these kinds of things. Obviously that was not in place at the council and so that is one of the things that myself and Mayor Wagner bring to the table and that we want to put in place because if the previous council was being responsible and prudent, these payments that you know you will have to pay out eventually, would have already been budgeted for and would have already been provisioned for. So yes, it is a lot but January. February is our peak inflows, but we have to manage it because we don’t want to have these peaks and valleys anymore. We want to make sure that throughout the course of the years, your staff is not being stressed when it comes July to October to find money for basic payments. And that is what we want because then we will get more productivity out of a staff. If during that period of time, all you are worried about is trying to pay bills and pay salaries, then staff won’t be worried about trying to get anything else done in the city. That is one of the changes that we want. It is a cultural change in the City Council, I know, because it brings a more structured environment and sometimes when you are taking a medicine, yo make up yo face, right.”

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