The failure of the Belize City Council to pay an outstanding debt to Belize Waste Control Limited (BWCL) has led to an application for contempt of court proceedings against Belize City Mayor Darrell Bradley.
The Council is indebted to BWCL to the tune of $2.3 million reports say. The debt continues to grow, as interest is continuously being assessed and added.
Mayor Bradley told reporters that when his Council took office, It tried to restructure the debt to make the Council 100 percent credit worthy.
Bradley added, the simple answer is that it is a large debt.
“We are putting in place a process that could advance this issue to the satisfaction of both sides”, he said.
“We are handling this matter responsibly. Whatever debt obligation the City Council has, we will meet those obligations,” Bradley said.
Bradley added that the City Council is doing relatively well, and it is not at the point where the Council would have to sell off any of its assets.
“This situation can be worked out and we intend to deal with it in a responsibly way,” Bradley stressed.
Attorney for the City Council, Michael Young, S.C. said that the City Council wants to make a global settlement of this debt.
But the attorney for BWCL, Fred Lumor, S.C., told reporters that this matter has been going on for about ten years now.
“There was a time when the City Council had garbage collectors picking up garbage from all over the city and that had caused substantial losses to his client. “And so we went to an arbitration”.
Lumor said that in 2004, the matter was heard by an arbitration panel, which was comprised of three Senior Councils, Michael Young, Andrew Marshalleck and Rodwell Williams.
In June of 2005, an award was made. “We (BWC) were dissatisfied with the award and we went to the Supreme Court to try to set it aside, but the City Council came to court and said it was satisfied with the award and that we should accept it. So the arbitration award was entered as a Supreme Court judgment.”
After accepting the award, Lumor said, the City Council went to the Supreme Court and agreed that itwould pay the award in instalments of $10,000 per week.
“This was in the year 2009. At this time the lawyer for the City Council was Mr. Darrell Bradley. But to date not a single cent has been paid,” Lumor said.
In 2001 Lumor recalled, BWCL applied to the Supreme Court to say that the refusal of a municipal body to pay a debt amounted to a violation of the constitutional rights of BWCL.
In a decision delivered on April 2, 2012, the court agreed that the failure to pay contravened the rights of BWCL, and the court ordered the City Council to pay the debt forthwith, Lumor said.
“We wrote to them in May, June and July of last year and to date not a single penny has been paid. So we applied for committal proceedings against the Mayor of Belize City Council.
“On each occasion the case was called up, they asked for a postponement in order for them to pay this debt.”
Lumor said that the City Council has given the court an undertaking to file an affidavit about its financial position and will make a substantial payment to settle the balance on terms to be proposed to the court. So the court had given the City Council an adjournment to April 22, to settle this matter”.
Lumor revealed that the interest rate on one debt is about $200 per day and another one is about $59 per day.
The matter has been adjourned to April 22.