Politics — 07 March 2014 — by Kareem Clarke
CitCo presents mid-term progress reports

Mayor says no one can deny that the City is moving forward

The current City Council administration – led by Mayor Darrell Bradley – has arguably been making tangible strides to improve the ambiance, and develop the infrastructure of the Old Capital, and this morning, the Belize City Council (CitCo) presented their report card encompassing recent accomplishments within the last year and future plans for further infrastructure works and policy implementations across the evolving city of Belize.

In his presentation, the Mayor proceeded to update the public on what CitCo has been up to, while boasting that all city residents can see that the city is moving forward.

“Significant efforts have been made to ensure that City Hall is run in a way that comports with the highest level of ethics and accountability”, Bradley stated.

He told the audience of three core areas of development on which the council is focused, which are infrastructure, governance and economic development.

According to Bradley, one of the main things that were done was a re-alignment of City Hall, which was done to ensure that all staff are efficient and can deliver goods and services to the benefit of the community.

“We have differentiated and delineated the functions of our political officers and the executive branch which is run by the City Administrator so that the Mayor and the Councilors focus on strategic planning, while the executive branch stays focused on areas of legislative reform and financing”, he said.

One of the policies that the council put in place was legislation for the public disclosure of CitCo’s accounting records. Bradley said, “We have a monthly reporting of our financial statements on our website so that every month, any member of the public could know how much the City Council takes in and spends, and that information is always there.”

Mayor Bradley boasted about a drastic increase in the performing accounts of his council. “When the last audit period began, the council had in its accounts $37,000, and 1 year later after the close of the audit period, in March 2013, the City Council had $5.3 million in its accounts”, he mentioned, citing increased efforts of revenue collection on the part of the council.

Due to such accomplishments, the idea of a $10 residential garbage fee which was initially supposed to be attached to city residents’ water bill when the Municipal Bond was first launched, has been discarded.

In terms of the Municipal Bond, Bradley declared that the first maturity date is November of this year and assured residents that CitCo would be able to pay off the first portion of the bond this year, since it has money in the Central Bank with a performing sinking fund that will allow them to comfortably retire that part of the Municipal Bond.

The funds from the bond were used mainly for infrastructure projects such as the unprecedented concreting of over 100 Belize City streets in approximately a year and a half.

That, though, only amounts to just over 20 percent of the 520 city streets on which motorists and pedestrians maneuver every day.

Bradley acknowledged that his council will not be able to fix all the streets that are in need of attention in this term, but promised that they will have concreted a total of at least 140 streets by this September, in alignment with his promise to city residents to concrete 1 in every 3 streets by the end of their tenure.

In order to “put teeth” into those pledges, the Mayor said that he will be signing 7 works contracts in the near future, through which more street upgrades will be conducted, along with a $1.8 million drainage project and the upgrading of the first 5 miles of the Philip Goldson Highway, from the Flag Monument to the Haulover Bridge.

Other plans for the city, according to Bradley, include a downtown commercial free zone and the development of the Commercial Center – which will then become CitCo’s headquarters.

He concluded by saying that “no one can deny that substantial work has taken place in the city over the last two years to the point where you can drive anywhere in Belize City and see some project going on”, but later added that “everyone needs to pay their fair share of taxes because we need money to run the city, and I’m not a magician, but we are trying to take responsible steps without increasing any taxes.”

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