By Benjamin Flowers Staff Reporter
The court battle between Belize Waste Control and the Belize City Council over arrears owed to BWC continued Tuesday, when representatives for both parties appeared before Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin.
CitCo is six weeks behind in payments to the company, but Mayor Darrell Bradley has openly stated that the council does not intend to pay off the entire amount.
“It’s our position that under the terms of the contract we could lawfully be in arrears for four weeks.
“That itself means we do owe for four weeks but it does not constitute a breach of contract and so our position is that by Friday when we are at this four week precipice, then that would ameliorate some of the issues in terms of the litigation.”
Bradley characterized being in arrears as a “perennial problem,” saying that the council will always close the arrears gap in the months of March and April but will fall behind when the council is in its “slow season” around August.
He blames the structure of the current contracts for the situation.
Following the mayor’s comments, BWC’s attorney Eamon Courtenay said that his clients are serious about collecting arrears and making sure that future payments are made one time, regardless of how much litigation is necessary.
“The Mayor believes that everybody must wait until he is ready to pay,” Courtenay said. “That is not how the world turns. He has an obligation; he owes money and he must pay the money on time.”
Courtenay explained that Bradley had an arrangement with BWC to withdraw proceedings in exchange for several concessions to the company.
He added that because he was confident that the mayor would breach the arrangement he did not file the paper work for withdrawal of proceedings.
The mayor did breach the arrangement and now BWC is filing a separate civil suit for breach of that agreement.
BWC and CitCo have had several days in court over the years, some of which pre-dating the current administration. In 2009 BWC won an arbitration settlement against CitCo for of $2.3 million. Mayor Bradley was the city’s attorney at the time.
They returned to court in 2012, where then attorney for BWC Fred Lumar convinced the court that BWC’s rights were violate.
In February 2013, BWC sought a bench warrant for the mayor’s arrest for contempt of court for refusal to pay the settlement.
The parties reached an agreement in April, where BWC would discount the total amount and the city would pay the balance.
The council paid a total of $1.2 million which the mayor says was a sign of good faith from the council.