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Apr 2, 2012

Orange Walk Town Council also trims its numbers

Up north, the Orange Walk Mayor, Kevin Bernard says several irregularities have been uncovered since his team took office. Today, it was revealed that shortly before the March seventh elections, fifteen employees signed three year contracts, granted by the previous mayor. The contracts would cost the council five hundred and ninety-one thousand dollars in salaries, but Mayor Bernard says they are seeking legal advice on the validity of the agreements. In a press release today, the council describes the rewarding of the contracts as unethical and a disservice to residents of Orange Walk Town. The council says that; “It is an attempt to hold the present municipal administration ransom and caught in a financial and political stranglehold which would ensure that service to residents would be affected negatively.” Bernard spoke to News Five about the contracts via phone and he also pointed out the obvious flaws that illustrate the haste in which the documents were prepared.

 

Via Phone: Kevin Bernard, Orange Walk Mayor

Kevin Bernard

“When we came into office on the Thursday, the eighth of March, we were handed a file by the former administrator and we found that there were fifteen employees who had signed contracts dated the first day of February by the former mayor. These are all the office staff and the members from the transport department.  The cost benefit of the—the cost of these contracts, you know we are talking about a huge amount of salaries that were agreed to and what we are doing right now is an evaluation to different employees to see if they are actually providing the work that they have signed on for. However, this council feels that the intent of them signing the contract just one month prior to the election, shows that they want to hold the hands of the council so that we would not have been able to make certain recommendations and adjustments where necessary but we are currently working to see how best we have production improved here at the council. We encountered a lot of irregularities and we are working on getting those facts.”

 

Delahnie Bain

“So, since these employees have contracts, is there anything you can do about it at this point?”

 

Via Phone: Kevin Bernard

“We have already been seeking legal advice. At the moment we have our lawyers looking into it to see whether or not these contracts can stand in any court. The reason being, Delahnie, is that as a former council member, the previous council never had any meeting or resolution to agree to such signing of any contracts and so we are looking at that aspect as well.”

 

Delahnie Bain

“The release says that the contracts are dated the first [of February], but you have since found out that they were signed at a later date?”

 

Via Phone: Kevin Bernard

“Yes, I had a conversation with one of the employees who informed me that these contracts, while dated the first of February were not really signed on that day but were around the twenty-fourth of February. And I also confirmed that with another employee who we knew gave me the information. However, you will note that one of the contracts to show the rush that they were trying to get these in, the mayor did not sign one of the contracts and in fact the employee signed and dated first of February and then the witness dated the signing on the twenty-seventh of February. There are different dates and as far as I know, anybody that is signing an agreement, the witness should be there in the presence of that person and I was informed that when these contracts were being signed, the witness wasn’t here. The person wasn’t here at the time of the signing and that is the reason you see those dates that differ.”

 

The release further notes that while employees who have worked efficiently at the Town Council have nothing to worry about, “employees who have abused their positions in any way and held back the work of the Council while enjoying the protection of political patronage will be asked to leave.”

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3 Responses for “Orange Walk Town Council also trims its numbers”

  1. Storm says:

    On principle, I think no politician should be able to bind the future governments with long-term contracts. Those politicians will not be around to be responsible for how those contracts are going to be paid — they’re basically just corrupt acts.

    We should remember any dirty politicians who make crooked deals like this, because that is part of why the Jewel is in a financial shambles! Remember them, and drum them out of public life, once and for all time.

  2. mosh says:

    Fire them, public servant should not be on contract, hense a town council, Fire them Bernard.

  3. Pontius Pilate says:

    Well said, Storm. Belize should move on, not remain in the rules and regulations that pertain to the 1900s. At this point in time, Belize should have an educated electorate who vote on principles and right judgment and not bought like some voters in election March 7, 2012.

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