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Feb 27, 2009

CitCo owes Belize Maintenance Ltd. $1.9 million

Story PictureAnd there is more to compound the financial woes of the Belize City Council, which finds itself indebted to the tune of nine million dollars. Viewers will remember the case of Belize Maintenance Limited, the company contracted by CitCo to cut grass throughout the city. Last September, the council missed several payments which forced BML to temporarily lay off workers and in the ensuing months, the council’s debt to BML continued to grow. That figure today is a staggering one point nine million dollars. Lawrence Ellis, the managing director for BML, says that he has no choice but to sue the Belize City Council. He has hired an attorney to represent his company with the impending lawsuit.

Lawrence Ellis, Managing Director, B.M.L.
“The old contract was for forty-six thousand and the new one was for twenty-eight. That was the price they came up with, with all of their advisors and their finance people and they said to me that we will never miss a payment. You can be assured that we will never miss a payment because this is what we can afford. We negotiate the contract around that price and they did the same for S.E.L. From October twelfth, 2006 when we signed the new contract under the new City Council, they didn’t have any missed payments until last year September when for B.M.L. we had up to seven weeks without being paid.”

Jose Sanchez
“Now fast forward to today’s date. What is the debt that the City Council now owes you?”

Lawrence Ellis
“The actual debt is a little over one point nine million dollars. I was informed by the council that in December I would have been paid for the debt since September. Well that didn’t happen. I was told in January, that didn’t happen. Now it’s February, there’s a new election and still that has not happened. The money dispute, I have to take them to court because if I don’t, some of these monies will become statute bar then I will be losing. This is not money that I am borrowing; this is money I already paid business tax on. I owe not a single tax on this money. This is money that is due to us that we really worked for so we have to take them to court for it. We have to both appoint an arbitrator and then both arbitrators will appoint a third arbitrator, a person to mediate the whole process.”

Jose Sanchez
“But what is there really to mediate? You are owed one point nine million dollars.”

Lawrence Ellis
“I don’t know. I don’t know. It’s just to deal with it officially because if we leave it like this then we are not going to get paid. And if you look at it, the interest that incurs on these types of money is huge interest. It’s in the council’s best interest for us to settle this thing but if they want to take us all the way to court then we have to do that.”

Jose Sanchez
“Who have you communicated that that if you aren’t paid, you are going to sue? That person is from city council. Who did you communicate with?”

Lawrence Ellis
“I communicate mainly with the mayor and councilor Usher.”

Jose Sanchez
“And what did they say?”

Lawrence Ellis
“The mayo—the proposal I gave to the council and the mayor, I don’t think from her conversation with me there are any problems, neither does councilor Usher. I just think the problem is they can’t get the council together to have an agreement. That is the main problem with the Belize City Council. As far as my conversation with the mayor that this thing can be settled with the proposal that I gave them and councilor Usher, likewise, it’s just an internal issue that the council has.”

Belize Management Limited is being represented by Lisa Shoman. Ellis says he will also sue for legal cost.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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