City Council makes double payment to Belize Waste Control
Garbage woes…Around the city, garbage is piling up as city hall and Belize Waste Control remain at odds. BWC cut down on garbage collections this week when City Hall again could not meet its payment. City was four months behind in payments; that is until today when they made a hundred thousand dollars deposit toward the seven hundred and fifty thousand dollar debt. With that, BWC will resume collection but on a limited schedule. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.
Isani Cayetano, Reporting
An outstanding debt of almost three quarters of a million dollars, owed to Belize Waste Control by the city council, has once again threatened the collection of garbage in the Old Capital. On Thursday, the company was forced to scale down its daily operation by parking seven of nine garbage trucks at the compound on the George Price Highway. While a double payment of a hundred thousand dollars was paid today, the issue of the council sinking deeper into debt around this time of year is a recurrent problem.
Darrell Bradley, Belize City Mayor
“I just got out of meeting with the city administration and we just gave them two payments which I a double payment. We expect to be paying them double payment or in some cases triple payment so that we could equalize with the arrears situation. That is really the position, we have no standing and in terms of saying that the money is not owed. It is a situation which is difficult to fix because of the way the funding for the city council comes in. This is a situation that I have inherited at the city council, it compounded by the fact that we are paying off their judgment. For example on December 20th we have to pay them a six hundred and twenty thousand dollar judgment. This is not monies and that is during the slow season, this is not monies that we have lying around the place. We are trying to be effective in our commitments to build streets, in our commitments to maintain parks and top deliver other priority areas. I have emphasized this that we spend forty-five cents of every dollar that we collect on sanitation services and that is unsustainable. I have gone to other cities and I have asked them what their cost is for sanitation and a city typically spend between 15 and 20 percent to get to 45 percent it is just unsustainable. I am surprised that the city councilor could actually meet that commitment and meet its commitments in terms of salaries and infrastructure and other priority areas that we have. The reality is we are just trying to do the best we can, we made two payments today, we expect that we will also have to make that additional double payment ending of the year.”
According to Mayor Bradley, contracts awarded to BWC and Belize Maintenance Limited for garbage collection are costing City Hall forty-five cents to every dollar collected.
“We pay them fifty thousand dollars every week. One sanitation contractor we pay fifty thousand dollars that is BWC and the other contractor we pay seventy-eight thousand dollars per week that is BML. So combine that hundred and thirty add thousand dollars that we pay every single week. It is difficult for us even to collect that, to be able to turn that over and pay. So when we say we make a double payment we pay them two weeks, we pay them fifty thousand dollars and on top of that we pay them an additional fifty thousand dollars. And in some cases we must make mention I think it was three weeks ago we paid them a triple payment which was a hundred and fifty thousand dollars. So we expect to be paying them double payments and triple payments towards the ending of this year and early next year so we can equalize in terms of the arrears so we can be at a zero balance. But this is going to be the reality next year, next year you are going to be at the same spot and you are going to ask me the same question because on a sustainable basis a city cannot continue to be paying forty-five cents out of every dollar for sanitation.”
The mayor has also indicated that when the contract signed with BML expires in 2015, the council intends to enact legislation which will hold residents responsible for the cleaning of areas in front of their property.
“The BML contract expires in January of 2015 and we already indicated well at least I as mayor have no intention of renewing that contract and what we are going to do is that we are going to put in place what is called sway legislation which will require you to maintain two feet in front of their property line and I think if members of the public are able to do that and they will cooperate with the city administrator in that way and we are not having to replace that service, that will represent a four million dollar savings every single year for the city council. That is going to be savings that we could put in streets and parks and public safety and that will be a significant reprieve because of we get that we can easily deal with the other sanitation contract which I think is a, is more of an essential service. I don’t think that the city council should be paying to pick up garbage off Albert Street it is not a public thing.”
Despite the payment made today, the city council remains three a half months behind in monies owed to Belize Waste Control. The company’s general manager George Lamb told News Five today that his fleet of garbage trucks should resume its full operation by Monday. Isani Cayetano for News Five.