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Feb 21, 2014

Belize City Mayor discusses BML contracts

The Belize City Council currently pays two sanitation companies for work done in the city – Belize Waste Control and Belize Maintenance Limited. Both companies account for over one hundred thousand dollars a week, leaving the council in arrears. Mayor Darrell Bradley has indicated that though he is currently in litigation with BWC, that company will drop its suit because they recognize efforts to pay off the debt. So that leaves BML, which accounts for seventy-eight thousand dollars a week. That’s a financial commitment the mayor says he wishes he didn’t have…and soon he won’t. BML’s contract expires in January 2015, and Bradley says he will not renew it. He is hoping that residents of Belize City will chip in and do their civic duty.

 

Darrell Bradley, Belize City Mayor

Darrell Bradley

“If that is the case then we forecast that we will not have to replace the service. If we don’t replace the service then that will be an addition four million dollars of savings for Belize City and we would then put that money into infrastructure, into parks and into other priority areas of the city. So we’re trying to see if we could hammer out a strategy which would have residents take up greater responsibility and ownership in terms of cleaning up their space because when you look at the BML contract that is something that we ought not to pay for. Why would we pay to clean in front of somebody’s yard? That property has a landowner and that landowner should bear responsibility for cleaning that. The reality is that we feel that both contracts are too onerous and too costly…we just cannot afford it. There is this adage that you have beer money and wine taste. A city can afford to pay for certain services, and that is a service that we cannot afford to pay for and because we’ve been in litigation and we have outstanding judgments we know that we can’t pay for it. So that we’re not saying that the new strategy would be easy or that it would be a smooth transition, but I think that it is worth the try…to say that let’s not renew any contract with these people…let us try to see if we can have residents take up this new responsibility like what they do now and we can monitor the situation. We would put in place regulations to ensure that there are penalties, but we would want to…this is why we are starting this discussion now. That contract will not expire until January of next year, so that we have as our target to commence these discussions and public awareness in March, so that we would have from March until January next year to raise these things in the public forum, to discuss why we are doing these things, to do public awareness campaigns, public education campaigns, to go into schools and to talk to people about sanitation and the expense of sanitation and what we could do with that money if we didn’t have to pay for sanitation. So we are giving ourselves a window, and then also too within that period of time we are going to pass legislation so we would have penalties.”

 

We note for context that the Mayor appears to be simplifying things somewhat. Apart from just cleaning the street-sides, BML’s contract specifies a whole list of other services including cleaning drains. Still, we guess we’ll cross that drain when we get to it.

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