On Monday we broke the news that Town Council employees had not been paid their salaries because of a current cash crisis. We were unable to reach the Town Administrator who we understand handles all the financial matters of Town Hall, but we did reach Mayor Phillip de la Fuente who told us that those reports were not true and all employees had been paid.

But tonight CTV-3 has confirmed that in fact those reports were true. The cash crisis at the Town Council is very real and a majority of employees did not receive their salaries at the time we ran the story. Today we managed to speak to the Mayor who told us that he had inadvertently given us incorrect information at the time but that all employees have now been paid. We took the opportunity to ask him about the financial situation at Town Hall.

Screen_shot_2011-06-01_at_7.48.58_PMPhillip de la Fuente Mayor

“As with all businesses I have to say including the Town Council the revenue collection is slow right now, the Property Taxes are not coming in as expected, Trade Licenses are behind also they are trickling in but not as how we expect it to be and I think that is setting back what you call the cash flow.”

We also asked about a meeting which we understand was held at Town Hall yesterday to discuss the revenue crunch and drastic measures that might have to be taken if it does not improve, including the dreaded retrenchment.

Phillip de la Fuente Mayor

“We have not discussed that to any extent, we were discussing issues like how we could improve on the collections. I told my staff and colleagues that letting go of workers is not something that I would like to contemplate at the moment because things are very tight at the moment so I made it very clear that letting go of the employees would not be a part of the restructuring.”

But while the Mayor says downsizing would be the absolute last resort, he did speak about looking at the bonus office staff is given every year. And we couldnt resist asking about some large payments to the Administrator Andre Moguel, including $5000 for what is noted as a vacation grant.

Phillip de la Fuente Mayor

“The usual increase or bonus that the workers get is a part of the negotiations right now because if you don’t have money you don’t have to give the bonus, it is just an addition to the pay it is not in law or anything but we usually try to give them a bonus every year and the $5000 that the administrator got that is part of his contract.”

And what about the work plan for the Town, since although the Council has boasted about owning all its own equipment the infrastructure in Orange Walk is still in dismal shape?

Phillip de la Fuente Mayor

“All machineries work on fuel and if you don’t have the money to purchase the fuel then you have to make adjustments so right now we are not doing much of the work that we had anticipated we would be doing but we are still getting the basic work done like picking up the garbage and chopping the street sides. The more advanced work like preparing of the streets, grading of the streets, and other works we had to cut back on those.”

Theres a lot more we wanted to ask about the finances of the Council, but at this point wed say that those questions would better be directed at the Town Administrator. Well try to do that soon, but first hed have to agree to an on-camera interview and he doesnt seem to want to do that.

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