Ambergris Today was privileged to receive a more detailed copy of the Town Council’s financial report read by the Mayor on Thursday, January 26, 2011. Attached to her script are several more pages which shed some more light to the financial operations of the council for the period 2009 to 2012.
For the year 2009-2010 the total revenue collected was $4,176,417.77. The total expenditures for the same period was $4,129,127.98 leaving about $40,000.00 + in surplus revenue. The biggest revenue earner was Property Taxes with a $1.14 million. Trade licenses netted the council close to $646,000.00 and there is an interesting miscellaneous revenue which is close to $805,000.00. (very high to be a miscellaneous category). The bridge at Boca del Rio gives the council a whopping $330,000.00 which indicates good business for the Council as well as an indication that the fees could now be adjusted to make it a service rather than a business. Or is it a good idea to keep it as a business? Ask the vehicle owners and taxi operators; consult with the voters of Ambergris Caye.
For the period 2010-2011the total revenues declined slightly to $4,067,500.00 but the expenditures increased even over their collections to $5,410,117.20. This means that the Town Council operated that year with $1,343,000.00 in the red or overdraft but the accounting does not show. How could the council operate with$1.3 million in the reds? Is it lawful to spend more than you collect or is it even possible? Or could it be that someone gave the council that amount of money to be able to operate but the council did not include that figure in its revenue statistics? These questions could only be answered in another public meeting where consultation would be possible.
For the final year 2011-2012 the Council claims to have collected so far a comfortable figure of $4,214,589.67. This is above the collection of the previous year. However during this same period the expenditures amounted to $4,510,856.85. Again this means that the council has spent $296,000.00 more than its income?
This means that the new Town Council to inherit office on March 7 will be inheriting a council that is probably on an overdraft or in the red. Is the council broke? How can it continue operations on a daily basis if it has already spent more than it has collected?
There is also other interesting figures that could be pointed out, not to question the accountancy but more on the basis of transparency? For example, expenditure figures indicate that on celebrations there is an average spending of about $240,000.00 annually while for materials and supplies only an average of about $115,000.00. If we assume that materials are used to repair streets, then there is a serious discrepancy in priorities as residents would rather better streets over celebrations. Then there are maintenance costs and operating costs that average to about $900,000.00 combined, but what could these be?
Questions like these arise since the financial report is not as detail as expected to be. Mayor Paz has openly invited residents to visit her office should anybody have any questions on the report that is available to the public.
The new aspirants to town council positions have these and other questions to ask - questions that perhaps only a serious independent audit might reveal. Below are a few extra figures that the Town Council made public in their financial report.