BELIZE CITY, Wed. Jan. 12, 2022– What has turned out to be a face-off within the San Ignacio/San Elena Town Council between UDP Mayor Earl Trapp and five PUP councilors appears to be intensifying due to Mayor Trapp’s objection to the councilors’ recommendation that Horace Grant, a long-time PUP supporter, be appointed to the post of Town Administrator. Mayor Trapp is asserting that Grant, who recently served as the PUP Cayo Central campaign chairman, is not qualified to hold the post of Town Administrator, since he does not have a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration.
“They knew about the prerequisites when the post was placed on social media and that we do need someone with a Bachelor’s degree in administration. I can tell you that since we had Dr. Flowers as my former administrator, before that we had Ms. Karen Fernandez and since then the prerequisite was placed, and that was the minimum—a Bachelor’s degree, because we had brought the town to a certain level and we wanted to ensure that it remained there and better. They are now insisting on hiring someone with a high school diploma. The town administrator is the highest office at the town hall or the municipality level,” stated Mayor Trapp at a press conference held earlier this week.
Attorney-at-law and UDP senator, Darrell Bradley, stated at the press conference that all the municipalities signed on to the Municipal Town Council Regulations back in 2014, and he addressed certain regulations related to the appointment of staff within the city and town administrations.
“This is not an issue of politics but an issue of accountability and transparency. The law specifically said ‘the town council shall employee a suitably qualified person to act as town administrator’. The regulations under the Town Council Act specify the roles and responsibilities of town admin, including to supervise staff, to be the accounting officer and to be the custodian of council funds, so it behooves any person and any council to ensure that the person who fills that office has the basic qualifications in accounting and management,” Bradley pointed out at the conference.
He went on to state, “They released this advertisement in December of last year, and when one releases an advertisement and invites applicants to fill a certain post, they have an obligation on them to stick to that requirement. If you set the minimum requirement as a Bachelor’s degree, people will take notice of that. It would be unlawful, discriminatory, and [ultra vires] for the municipality to consider somebody who did not meet that minimum requirement.”
At a press conference held by the PUP to address the same issue the day before, however, Minister of Local Government, Hon. Henry Charles Usher had stated, “I think the Mayor has an issue with democracy.”
“Why is he afraid of Horace Grant?” asked Minister Usher, who believes that Mayor Trapp has been resisting the appointment of Grant because he has allegedly been hiring family members and friends of his to fill vacant posts at the council.
During the PUP press conference, the Deputy Mayor, Matthew Preston, said,” You have the son, a procurement officer, niece as a cashier, the nephew—we told, we explained to the Mayor that we want to hire an operations manager. He says he will appoint his nephew as a temporary operations manager, and like we said, they submitted a budget for 2022 to 2023 without us knowing. We wanted to put a position for operations manager, so now you control procurement, you control finances and receivables. So you see what we’re saying: nepotism. Where’s the transparency in that?”
Mayor Trapp responded to those allegations by stating, “We have so many people that work out here, and, you know what, when you employ people and give people an opportunity to work on weekends, those are the people that give their all. You don’t want to employ people to come and do overtime and when they come, they work one hour, two hours and talk about wanting to sit down or go home. You employ or invite people to come that want to give their all; that’s one of the reasons why I said to my council, why do you believe San Ignacio and Santa Elena look the way it looks today? ”
Earl Trapp has been mayor of San Ignacio and Santa Elena since 2015.