Mayor Elsa Paz reports deficit for two consecutive years
Friday, February 3rd, 2012
Mayor of San Pedro Town, Her Worship Elsa Paz presented her end of term report on the night of Thursday, January 26th at the Lions’ Den. The presentation took place an hour later than scheduled and lasted a total of 20 minutes. The report, which outlined the last three years of her term, has left the community with even more questions than answers regarding the finances of the San Pedro Town Council. While the report does not say how much capital is available for the future Town Council or what is owed, the report shows that there has been two consecutive years of deficit.
Mayor Paz delivered her speech to a Lions’ Den full of empty chairs and 15 people which included two of her councilors, three senior staff members, audio and video technicians and reporters. A group of concerned residents opted to protest the Mayor’s end of term report by staging a walk-out just as the Mayor began her report.
For the financial year 2009/2010, The San Pedro Town Council reported that they collected $4,176,417.77. Property Tax accounted for a little over 27% of total collected revenue amounting to $1,142.052.85. The next notably large income was miscellaneous revenue which accounted for 19% of the total income in the amount of $804,434.57 of which Grand Belizeans Estate provided $224,000. For the same period total expenditure accounted for $4,129,127.98 creating a surplus of $47,289.79. Personal Emoluments (salaries and overtime) accounted for almost half of the entire budget at $1,919,459.91. Operating and Maintenance Costs, Materials, Supplies and Utilities combined accounted for $1,217,586.74. Monies allocated for celebrations alone accounted for $255,132.38. With the exception of Angel Coral Street which accounted for $185,434 of total expenditures, it was the only monies, according to the Mayor’s report, allocated for roads by the SPTC that year.
In fiscal year 2010/2011 Mayor Paz reported an increase in revenue which was exceeded by the total expenditure leading to a deficit. In her report Mayor Paz indicated that total revenues totaled $5,002,408.92 of which $1.4 million was obtained through a loan. In her report the Mayor said that, “David Mitchell from Grand Belizean Estates took full responsibility of the loan”. Property Tax accounted for $894,892.49 followed by Trade License revenue which accounted for $650,626.74. The Sir Barry Bowen Bridge brought in the total revenue of $373,377. The report indicates that the largest expense for 2010/2011 was Personal Emoluments which saw an increase of $51,458.53 totaling $1,970,918.44. Payment for Angel Coral Street Rehabilitation project accounted for $1,571,040.87 of which $1.4 was paid through a loan leaving a remaining balance of $171.040.87. Operating and Maintenance Costs, Utilities, Materials and Supplies accounted for $1,222,001.27. Total expenses on the bridge accounted for $145,887.50 (according to the report, it represented final payment for bridge) which is far less than what was collected. With the exception of Personal Emoluments, other increases in combined yearly expenses amounted to $ 45,701.97 making the total increase in expenditures to $97,160.50. Looking at the report, it is unclear how Mayor Paz reached a deficit of $407,708.28.
Not much was said about fiscal year 2011/2012 (up to December). All the Mayor Paz stated was, “This fiscal year the major project embarked on was the Laguna Drive Rehabilitation Project. With cost at $1.5 million, only $64,000 as retention remains pending for payment.” SPTC figures shows that with just two months to go in this fiscal year, total income up to December was $4,214,589.67. Figures show that the largest income for the council was through a second loan amounting to $1.485 million; there was no specific reason given for the loan. Income from Property Tax accounts for $859,971.29. Other significant incomes were unstated miscellaneous and traffic fees with combined accounts of $956,923.60. Income from Liquor and Trade Licenses, Garbage Disposal and Bridge fees accounted $652,526.50 combined. The biggest expense for the SPTC was the pavement of Laguna Drive which cost a little over $1.5. If the loan obtained by the Council was used to pay such project, then a remaining $22,443.66 is owed and not $64,000 as cited by the Mayor in her report. With two more months of salary to be paid out for this fiscal year (projected at $279,000), Personal Emoluments account for almost $1.4 million as of December 2011. Together Operational Cost of the SPTC and Celebration increased by $10,092.34 combined, bringing the total figure to $359,277.92. Of interest is that in fiscal year 2011/2012, there were new expenses such as Other Roads costing $30,550.00 and Sister City Relation accounting for $15,817.29. With no major increase in the overall expenditures and with a drastic cut in expenditure following full payment of Angel Coral Street and the Sir Barry Bowen Bridge in fiscal year 2010/2011, one would believe that it would offset the total expenses figure. However, SPTC figures show a deficit of almost $300,000 with two more months to go in the fiscal year.
Mayor Paz gave no report on total assets owned at the end of her term in office, how much working capital is expected to be left behind for the new Council to operate on or even a list of liability should there be one. No monies were allocated by SPTC for Youth and Sports in any of the three years, a portfolio that falls under the Mayor. In regards to the two straight years of reported deficits, Mayor Paz gave no indication in her report how the Council planned to offset those deficits.
When questioned by the media about the content of the report, Mayor Paz went on record to say that she would be available, along with her administrator on Friday January 27th to respond to any questions. Despite countless phone calls to the SPTC, Mayor Paz declined interviews while her Administrator Patricia Tillett has been unavailable since then.
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