The San Pedro Town Board held their second open town board meeting since their election in March on Monday, November 17th. The practice of holding open meetings had almost been discontinued by the previous town board. A contributing factor to the lack of open meetings no doubt is the apathy of the public. This apathy continues as there were only 6 people in the audience on Monday night, including this reporter. It is the opinion of this reporter that the absence of local "politicians" and other persons has no bearing on the importance of the meetings. In the audience were: Patty Arceo, People's United Party Standard Bearer for Belize Rural South; former mayor Baldemar Graniel; José "Milito" Paz; Steve Valencia, Ernesto Caliz and Bruce Collins.
Those town board members present were; Mayor Alberto Nuñez; Deputy Mayor Elito Arceo; Councilors Eiden Salazar, Jr. and Pedro Auyso and Town Clerk Ruben Gonzalez. Absent weer councilors Manuel Heredia, Jr.; Normando "Mandy" Castillo and Omar Guerrero.
Mayor Alberto Nuñez opened the meeting. The minutes of the last town board meeting of November 6th were read and approved with some minor corrections. During discussion of "matters arising" it was explained that the Escalante lots project was being somewhat delayed due to difficulties in obtaining titles to the lots. The first payment for electricity ($60,000) has been made. The next payment of $24,000 is due in February. A number of topics such as dog eradication (unable to do due to lack of poison pills); the marina and the land swap (proposed exchange of town board lands for central government land with sand.) Regarding the land swap or land lease, the board is now waiting for the recommendation of Commissioner of Lands.
The board is currently struggling with the March, 1997 debt of $213, 295.00 which they have now paid down to $137,178.35. Tax collections are currently slow and the board has hired Mr. Leo Cuellar who will attempt to re-schedule payments to creditors for the board. Over one and one-half million is due in delinquent property taxes - three individuals combined owe almost one half million of this amount. One of the largest creditors is San Pedro Hardware, with an outstanding amount of $50,201.67. This creditor has filed a civil action with the town board and the case is currently in Supreme Court. The board discussed the various options open to them regarding consolidating the debt. A loan from Central Government was requested, but this possibility seems remote. A loan in the vicinity of $150,000 from a commercial bank seems to be the best option at this point.
The recent aerial spraying of malathion was discussed. Some complaints were received about dead small fish, etc. but it was felt that controlling malaria and dengue fever were of more importance at this point. A second spraying is due.
Six schools have agreed to participate in township day, which is November 27th. Since this is a Thursday, the activities will take place on Friday the 28th.
A number of complaints have been received about street peddlers harassing tourists, especially on the beaches. Suggested solutions were requested. Mayor Nuñez said that perhaps a certain area should be designated to be used by the street peddlers.
Councilman Castillo on "leave of absence"
Councilman Mandy Castillo has gone to the United States for a "number of months" and will be placed on a "leave of absence" to "study" as soon as his letter requesting same is received.
Deputy Mayor Elito Arceo said he was working with Gach Guerrero, the Sea & Air Festival Chairman, to obtain sand and fill in some of the holes at the old football field.
Harmouche claims street
Most of us have noticed the cyclone fence being removed from the triangular shaped lot east of the WASA building. This lot, purchased by Simon Harmouche at a bank sale, was surveyed at the request of Mr. Harmouche. The survey seems to indicate that the lot is considerably larger than the previously enclosed area and encompasses most of the street. The area claimed includes a Water and Sewage Authority (WASA) installation which would be expensive to move. Mr. Harmouche has proposed that a square piece of land be used for the street, a solution that would cause a severe traffic hazard. A resolution to the matter is being discussed.
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