Belize City Mayor Bernard Wagner says there are thousands of dollars to be collected in property tax arrears. He says that while the council is in need of the funds to finance its daily operations, they are also cognizant of the fact that residents are struggling to catch up. It is on that point of consideration that the council is carrying a sort of amnesty at the end of the month.
Mayor Bernard Wagner: “That is always a challenge for any council. Property tax, you will never get one hundred percent performance in that area. Since taking office we have been able to improve on the collection ratio of property taxes going from 55% to now 70% but there is still a huge amount of arrears out there that are on the market. A lot of people who live on the margin can’t pay their property taxes and that is why we have undertaken this 20% discount program on arrears on July 27th. Our program differs from the previous council’s program, the previous council’s program focuses a lot on prepayment and we felt that prepayment goes against the principle of solidarity where we believe that all citizens, all residents should share in the advantages as well as the challenges in a society and while their program focuses on prepayment our program is focusing more on the arrears portion of the property tax. It is not cash-driven, it is more to alleviate those people living at the margins who are unable to update their property tax.”
Johnelle Mckenzie: “So it is a one day thing?”
Mayor Bernard Wagner: “It is one day event and that in itself is a much more strategic way of dealing with arrears. You never want to have these programs run more than one day because it erodes your revenue base.”
As Mayor Wagner mentioned, these will be done only at the booth during the Super Sale in downtown Belize City