The Belize City Council held a press conference this morning aimed at providing the media with a report on the first eight months in office. Mayor Bernard Wagner did the presentation himself in five areas, namely, the financial report, the council’s challenges and accomplishments coupled with the way forward. Mayor Wagner says their system is working as is reflected in their collections saying that while there was a weak improvement in collection of property taxes in last year, the current year has seen a fifty seven percent increase in collection. Mayor Wagner believes that this improvement has a lot to do with the doing-away of the twenty percent discount on property taxes. As it relates to trade license, 2017 saw 208 thousand while the current council has managed to collect 367 thousand. Another area examined was the traffic department.
Bernard Wagner, Mayor of Belize City: “Traffic, this is the area that I had a lot of reservation about when I took over but you can see now that the culture that we have brought in, this culture of accountability, integrity and transparency, $2 million they did in 2017, we did $2.4 million an increase of 18%. Then we go to all the other licenses we got the liquor license fee $20,000 we collected $32,000. The extension of liquor license I tried to understand this liquor license extensions and then I said how could it improve by 52% from $124,000 to $187,000 so I said maybe that was all under the collection and all the skulduggery that was occurring when we have these bars, clubbing and all these stuff and people would get these extension they would not pay and so the payment went to somebody’s pocket but now it’s coming in to us so you see it there $187,000. Special liquor license meeting fee from $300, then liquor license meeting fee probably were free but we have improved that by a whopping 1,341%. Liquor license prepayment 753 is just awesome and that is why I feel so good about the direction that this council is going and that is why I am encouraged that greater things lie ahead for us.”
As it relates to expenditure, Mayor Wagner says they have been able to cut the maintenance by more than fifty percent among other expenses like social assistance.
Bernard Wagner, Mayor of Belize City: “Maintenance costs, this the cost where we maintain our machinery, maintain buildings and etc, $452,000 we cut that by half to 56%. Training roughly the same one that. Extraordinary payments similar. Pensions, and this is why these people are talking crap on the other radio station about pension, $118,000 they paid in pension and gratuities, we paid $242,000, you know why ? Because they were not paying the pension and they were not paying the gratuities. When we came in the people started to demand it and that is why we had to pay it very simple. Public utilities went up a bit but that’s understandable we have been working hard, we have been burning the light. Social assistance and contributions, we had to cut a bit but it’s not something that we intend to carry on but if not be in this area $423,000 in social assistance and contributions we cut that to $140,000 and we are still delivering to the people in our social assistance program so we cut that by 67% that is awesome. Contracts, consultancy again $1.1 million they paid we paid $1.8 million the people that they signed the contract to said they wanted to get paid so we had to pay. This is all incorporated into the suppliers credit streets that they did just before the election, just before the elections- they didn’t pay it we had to pay it.”