General — 25 February 2014 — by Kareem Clarke

City Hall will enact regulations which will require city residents to clean and maintain up to two feet in front of their property line

The strenuous relations between the Belize City Council and one of its sanitation contractors, Belize Waste Control (BWC), soured even more after BWC hauled the Mayor to court last Friday for 5 weeks of outstanding arrears for sanitation services.

Mayor Darrell Bradley stressed that the litigation hearings were “unreasonable,” since the Council was doing its best to keep the debt within the limits of their contract with BWC – which allows for 4 weeks of indebtedness on the part of the Council.

This week, he told Amandala that both parties have decided that the lawsuit will now be settled out of court. The Mayor explained, “The situation is that last week, Waste Control had commenced other action against the City Council in respect of the arrears. In December of last year, we were 15 weeks behind with them (BWC), and they sued us for that 15 weeks. I was kinda surprised, because we were paying them. Now, we’ve brought it down to 5 weeks, and the contract itself shows us to be 4 weeks in arrears. Last Friday in court, we agreed to enter into a settlement order, and each side would bear their own costs, so the City Council will not incur any costs [of court].”

The Mayor also stated, “When they sued us, we admitted the claim because we owe the judgment, and one of the reasons is because when you admit a claim, the cost that you would pay stops there. When we went to court, we indicated to the judge that we will commit to paying down this debt which we have always been doing, and they [BWC] agreed that they will not press for any additional sums that will be due as a consequence. Both parties indicated to the court that they will settle the claim, but this is just a periodic victory for us because the problem is that this continues to be a consistent leech and burden on City Hall.”

Mayor Bradley then indicated how the Council intends to deal with the indebtedness, and bring it down to what the contract provides for. He said, “I indicated that last week, they would have gotten a payment, and they got that. This week Friday, they would have gotten a double payment, so we would have been 4 to 5 weeks behind, and when we are 3 to 4 weeks behind, there would be no issue of breach of contract because the contract allows for a 4-week grace period. I expect that within another 2-week period, we should be at 3 weeks.”

The Mayor maintained that the Council’s contracts with two private maintenance companies are unsustainable, which is why the contract with the other sanitation provider, Belize Maintenance Limited (BML), will not be renewed when it expires next January.

At that time, Bradley stated, City Hall will enact regulations which will require city residents to clean and maintain up to two feet in front of their property line, while the Council will assume responsibility to clean other parts of the city, such as parks and downtown areas.

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