Belize City Council back in court for BWC debt

The Court of Appeal began its second session for the year today. Among the criminal appeals listed for hearing are Glenford Bermudez for the murder of his common-law wife, Edward Buller for manslaughter of a girl friend and Veola Pook for murder of her common-law husband.  Meanwhile….The debt owed by the Belize City Council to Belize Waste Control since April of 2012 when a judgment summons was handed down in the Supreme Court has grown to $1.3 million and the two sides appear to be no closer to settling the matter. After a hearing before Justice Michelle Arana attorney for Belize Waste Control, Fred Lumor, said it’s very simple: pay up!

Fred Lumor – Attorney for BWC:
vlcsnap-2013-06-11-06h29m49s52I told City Council and I stated my position to the Court that it is not in the interests of Belize Waste Control to see anybody punished or fined.  We want a municipal authority to obey a court order.  The court order says pay the judgement forthwith, 2nd of April 2012.  If you’re unable to pay, please present to the court a schedule that you’ll follow in paying that debt. That is what we have now received for today, the judge has now adjourned the date to July 17th and asked the City Council to submit a schedule that they will follow towards to debt.

The Council is still contending that it wants to do even more in relation to the debt. Their attorney, Michael Young SC, explains City Hall’s position.

Michael Young – Attorney for Belize City Council:
vlcsnap-2013-06-11-06h42m08s243There was a report to the judge today, it was by the attorneys for the parties. Essentially the Belize City Council, through a letter which I wrote to their attorney to pass to their clients and to get instructions on it – we indicated what we think is a way forward, to settle the issue. It goes beyond just the monies that are owed to Belize Waste Control. It has to do with the fundamental responsibility of collecting and disposing garbage in relation to the city. We made a proposal contained in a letter which was prepared carefully and instructions of the City Council, fundamentally saying let’s discuss the matter of settling along these particular lines. They have rejected that invitation on our part, I’m not going to judge them – they have their position, I consider it to be unfortunate. The position then is that the application for the committal of the Mayor is still outstanding and if that case were to come up, I’m going to stand there in defense of the Mayor and the council and defend them as is fair according to the law. The judge was fundamentally apprised of what we wished to do in relation to settlement.  The position fundamentally is that there is a judgement that has to be satisfied as best as City Council can satisfy.

The Council’s latest proposal outlines a series of conditions for settling both issues – the debt and the contract – but Waste Control has made it clear they are not interested, according to Lumor.

Fred Lumor – Attorney for BWC:
There was a promise by the City Council that they would submit to us some proposal for considerations so that today the matter would have concluded. We did not any receive any letter from them until Friday. This letter has basically done two things, Firstly is to set conditions for complying with a court order basically saying that ‘we are prepared to raise some money from Central Government to pay you’ but ‘you have to write off 1.3 Million plus the cost of the action’ through discussion and setting objectives of the City Council. That is one. Secondly, there is no specific items that have been identified to us that they are asking Belize Waste Control to buy with 1.3 Million Dollars – so basically we are to write off 1.3 million dollars to discuss certain objectives. Now the way City Council sees it is that there is a commercial collection, Waste Control collects garbage from residential dwelling and also commercial houses. City Council is saying that they are not doing well with collection of commercial customers, but we are prepared to assist you to do well provided you write off 1.3 Million Dollars.
This letter is not only patronizing – it’s a smoke. He is not a business man that will allow Municipal Authority to set conditions for complying with a court order to pay money that they owe.

The matter has been adjourned to July 17, 2013. Before any committal takes place there must be a hearing in which arguments are taken from both sides. Interest on the debt now stands at $100,000

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