Mayor says BWC is “unreasonable”
Mayor Darrell Bradley has gradually reduced the Belize City Council’s 15 weeks of sanitation arrears which were owed to the Belize Waste Control (BWC) to 5 weeks, in addition to eliminating a $653,000 debt which had been outstanding up to last December – an obligation which had been previously overlooked or ignored by the past three City Council administrations.
In spite of those feats, Mayor Bradley was in court this Tuesday to address litigation proceedings for the remaining five weeks of arrears, which were initiated by BWC’s attorneys.
After making an appearance on KREM’s WUB morning show yesterday, Mayor Bradley characterized the court action as being “unreasonable”, and stated that he is of the opinion that the ongoing proceedings are being carried out “in bad faith.”
The Mayor said, “Waste Control is actually taking the City Council to court again in relation to the arrears that we admittedly owe them. We are [presently] discussing a payment schedule. We were 15 weeks behind in mid-December. We’re now at the point where we’re now between 5 and 6 weeks behind in arrears.
“So, we are planning on settling that. I had indicated to them from the beginning that we would equalize this by March, which is what we do every year. They have taken the step to sue us, even though we’re paying on the day. I thought that that was unreasonable, and in bad faith, but it’s their right to sue us if they so choose.”
Mayor Bradley went on to explain, “There is a certain portion that they sued us for, [and] we admitted that the contract provides that, at any given time, we can be 4 weeks in arrears. So, technically, we’re not in breach if we are 5 weeks in arrears. I mean, we only owe you one week.
“So, they are saying, ‘Well, pay us all the 6 weeks. But the contract lawfully provides that we could be 4 weeks in arrears. So, what we have said to them is that we would have brought this [debt] within a 4-week period by the end of this month, so that we would be within the terms of our contract. And we’re trying to work that out in terms of bringing this court matter to a close.”
Bradley explained that it is not unusual for an entity like the City Council to be in arrears, but reiterated his pledge to clear the debt by March. He said, “When you’re dealing with an entity like the Belize City Council, we’re a governmental body. We process significant amounts of cheques every single day. It’s usual that you would be in arrears. When you send us an invoice, we don’t make the cheque the same day. Sometimes, it takes us a week to pay you. It’s usual when you’re talking about a cheque payment of $57,000 per week to be in arrears. You don’t pay that in the week; nobody has a system that efficient.
“Of course, we don’t want to always be at 4 weeks, but if we’re at 2 weeks, we consider that to be an acceptable limit within the contract. We’re trying to tell them to deal with us in good faith because we’re trying to pay. It was at 15 weeks; now, we’re at between 5 and 6 weeks and we’re going to bring it down to a zero balance by March.”
We attempted to get in contact with BWC’s owner, Anthony Griffith to get his comments, but he was not available at the time.