General — 08 April 2014 — by Rowland A. Parks

Belize City Council & Belize Waste Control are almost at the brink over the Council’s arrears

The Belize City Council continues to struggle to pay its arrears to the sanitation company Belize Waste Control (BWC), and the parties had one more round of litigation on Tuesday in the chambers of Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin.

Their case has been adjourned to Friday morning, when the parties are scheduled to return to court to provide an update on the council’s plan to pay its outstanding arrears to the sanitation company.

Coming out of the Chief Justice’s chamber, both parties updated the media on the continuing litigation.

Belize City Mayor Darrell Bradley, who represented the City Council at the hearing, said that by Friday, the council is expecting to reduce the amount it owes the sanitation company to just one month of arrears.

The Mayor added,” That itself means that we do owe four weeks, but that does not constitute a breach of contract and so our position is that by Friday…. that would ameliorate some of the issue in terms of the litigation and we are making good faith efforts to try to see that we can maintain that four-week period.”

But BWC’s attorney, Senior Council Eamon Courtenay, did not countenance the four-week threshold for arrears that Mayor Bradley has, in his view, arbitrarily established.

Courtenay said, “I think the mayor is in a parallel universe. The mayor believes that he owes money and… will pay it when he wants. The mayor believes that everybody must wait until he is ready to pay. The only reason the mayor paid the amount that he had to pay was because he was threatened with incarceration.”

Courtenay added: “He [the mayor] is taking comfort in the arrogance of his incompetence and maladministration. He must pay his bills and pay them on time, or there will be a consequence — it’s very simple as far as we are concerned.”

Mayor Bradley said that the council could never get its arrears under control because of the way the sanitation contracts are structured — with the council doling out forty-five percent out of every dollar it collects to pay its sanitation bills.

“The reality is that the city pays too much money for the collection of garbage and we cannot control that situation,” said Mayor Bradley.

The Council is currently in arrears to the Belize Waste Control for six weeks of services, which is estimated to amount to $300,000.

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