San Pedro Town Council Presents Financial Update Before March Elections
Yesterday I attended the San Pedro Town Council’s Press Conference financial update – the results of an independent accounting audit from the current administration’s first 2 years in office.
The first half (or more) of the presentation was a pretty scathing report of the mess that was reportedly left behind by the previous town council. That was quite detailed.
But the breakdown of current assets, rents, salaries, operating expenses, purchases and revenue were not available. We received a top-level summary.
This is a great step towards transparency and accountability. The first independent audit. This PUP administration has been getting some really good things done. Under their leadership, we have a huge new bridge connecting north to south, they are paving so many of the local neighborhoods (it’s really very impressive) and they have purchased quite a bit of new equipment. They have updated efficiency and systems at the town council. They, in my opinion, are better at communicating about what they are doing.
However regarding this audit, we are only getting the top-level summaries and one-sided criticism of the previous administration. So keep that in mind.
And, if you are interested in the press conference and the questions asked by the media houses (Channel 5, Channel 7, Reef Radio, LoveFM, the San Pedro Sun, Ambergris Today…me – I kinda had to invite myself last minute), I hope you watch the conference. You can view it on the San Pedro Town Council’s Facebook page.
Municipal elections are March 6, 2024. Our current PUP administration, headed by Mayor Wally Nunez, will be up for re-election. These few months before election – no matter what party is in office – is often a time for visible infrastructure projects, campaign promises & manifestos and t-shirt-worthy headlines.
So here are a few headlines that were presented at the conference.
- This audit was for 2021 and 2022 only. The fiscal year 2023 ends in March and, if re-elected, the current town council will present that information in October 2024.
- When the current administration came into office, there was a reported large overdraft with two banks (over $180K), a bill with the income tax office of over $200K, and significant vendor balances to Caribena Fuels, Medina Construction, and Caribbean Depot (totally over $700k), there were outstanding loans with no information attached.
- The current administration improved systems and has paid off or is paying down all of these balances
More interesting nuggets that were shared:
- The town council collected just over $9mil in revenue in 2022 – the majority is from property taxes, then liquor and trade licenses and about 20-25% from licensing golf cart vehicles (traffic was a hot topic, and questions were asked by the press. The answers were…vague)
- Question asked: Are there plans to raise property taxes? They only said that they want to get things on “an even playing field”
- The big question: How are the roads and the road paving project – how is that being paid for? Answer: Municipal bonds. But again, information was vague and promised at the October 2024 meeting.
- Department of the Environment and the Forestry Department will be opening units/offices in San Pedro. (That’s great news)
- The press brought up traffic several times – has there been an increase in permits? What sort of controls are needed/will be implemented? Information was a bit vague – they are “looking at different measures”.
- Services are planned for north Ambergris Caye – the area growing up north of the quarry. Or “San Pedro Norte”. Electricity should be coming soon.
That’s my summary of the event: Positive, moving in the right direction but with a heavy grain of salt. Again, if you are interested in more, definitely watch the event online!