REMINDERS: There is still time to donate a gift for the Colonos employee party being held tomorrow (Dec. 13). Drop them off in the morning at the Colonos office. The office will be closed Dec. 24-25 and open the 26th and follow a similar schedule for New Year week.
PROPERTY TAX collectors will end their stay at the Colonos office Saturday, still time to get the 25% discount here.
HOLIDAYS dance party with DJ Bob 7 to 10:30 P.M. Dec. 27 at Latitude 20 Restaurant on the Lagoon of Dreams.
RUNNERS in the annual road race, being held on Jan. 19 this year, are reminded to get in shape to vie for one of the prizes. More details later.
WANTED: Golf cart, aluminum frame, 4-person, good shape. Contact Carlos 984-111-1252
COLONOS FEE UP 3.5% FOR 2014
Will cover 5% wage hike,
VAT tax rise from 11 to 16%
An audience of about 60 property owners was served a full plate of community issues at the Colonos general assembly held Saturday at the beachfront Xenote Restaurant of the Omni Hotel. While there were not many people, there were sufficient votes –532 of them – to conduct the annual meeting. Hotel and condo association managers represent many voters by proxy.
By the end of the 3.5 hour feast of community affairs, the audience had digested some of the issues, like financials for example, but reluctantly watched other topics being sent back to the kitchen to spend more time in the oven.
In contrasting fashion, the financial reports and independent audit – last year’s spending and next year’s budget – were quickly dispatched with applause for the staff, board members and vigilance committee while issues of beach access and reclamation, traffic, zoning code enforcement, water costs, road repairs, rubbish collection, cat population and others remained on the back of the stove for the slow burn of evolutionary problem solving.
What roadblocks and impediments to progress could not be solved immediately were at least satisfactorily explained for the most part. While it was the general consensus the meeting was participatory, efficiently conducted and cordial, not everyone left the meeting completely contented.
Maintenance Fee Rises 3.5%
Board president Jorge Kaufer and Colonos general manager Armando Rincon said the association would finish out the year in February with a healthy surplus of 1,200,000 pesos. In addition, a modest 3.5 percent boost in the maintenance fee was approved by voters as resident Lyn Benton sought an assurance the increase would provide a 5 percent raise for Colonos workers and cover the federal hike in the IVA tax from 11 to 16 percent as of January.
(The IVA tax and the VAT are one in the same expressed in different languages. The VAT stands for Value Added Tax in English and the IVA for Impuesto al Valor Agregado in Spanish.)
Snowbirds in particular may be happy to learn the Colonos has contracted with Pay Pal to simplify payments of the maintenance fee. It should be working by the next quarter (February-April). “We encourage you to check with us before using the service,” Rincon said, to ensure proper use of the system. (There is a 4% commission plus 4 pesos to be added to the payments by Pay Pal. Contact email@example.com to calculate the correct amount of payment and get further guidance on filing.)
Top News: Two surprising bits of information were revealed by PA developer Roman Rivera Torres. One is that work is expected to begin sometime in August on expanding the golf course to 18 holes and the other is a plan to transform the water system to reverse osmosis (RO) and that the company is being offered for sale.
Reverse osmosis is the ultimate system for creating potable water. It means, in brief, that one can drink water from the tap, eliminating the need for bottles if one so chooses. How RO does this will be a tropic of future editions.
As to the golf course, Rivera Torres said the government is requiring extra expenditures for mitigation of trees by mandating their replacement nearby. He said all the holes will be constructred at the same time. Construction probably will begin on the Barcelo end.
Other highlights in a nutshell
A full year of activity and developments crammed into a 3.5-hour meeting can’t be entirely condensed in one news story. We will present the highlights below and expand on them in succeeding editions as activity develops.
Beach Issues: There was nothing new to report about the major reclamation project proposed for Fatima Bay that hadn’t already been reported in earlier editions of the Pelican Free Press. To recap, there remains environmental permit issues with federal environmental agency and the re-building of the barge that will be used to haul boulders for the underwater barrier. No time-certain was given for the actual project to begin but the same construction company, Oceanus, and design expert, Dr. Ping Wang, will remain on board. A meeting with those principals is being sought for the near future.
Non-transferable beach access cards issued by the Fideicomiso through the Colonos office (two per housing unit) have been prepared to allow residents access via the Omni Hotel, but their use vis-a-vis guests and renters remains a matter for more negotiation. Besides beach access, the cards (the issuing Fideicomiso calls them passports) offer discounts from some 18 local businesses ranging from 10 to 20 percent and other uses yet to be firmly established.
Some doubt about the necessity for cards was expressed by Mr. Kaufer and resident Trisha Caddey, neither of whom saw any pressing need for them. Their use was defended by Mr. Rivera Torres, who is steadfast in assuring Puerto Aventuras remains a private, protected community.
Preparing the cards for all owners and residents was complicated since not all administrators of condo buildings chose to share their data bases of names with the Colonos, opting instead to keep the names private. Those individuals will have to deal with the Colonos to get their cards, a process slated to begin in February. In the meantime, proprietary I.D. cards can be used for access.
Security improving: During discussions of street lighting and security cameras, it was reported that both those ongoing projects have helped reduce misdemeanors by 30 percent since the projects began. On the waterfront, plans were announced to replace a live guard at the new-marina entrance/exit with a security camera and motion lights.
Mr. Kaufer explained that on the several occasions that boats were stolen last year, the live guard reported the activity immediately to the Marines (Coast Guard) and that despite assurances given the Colonos that the Marines would respond, they didn’t, leaving a lasting impression that the agency is unreliable. The camera, Kaufer explained, will at least yield tapes to be used as evidence in the short and long term.
One resident asked to have the cameras linked to personal computers so anyone interested could monitor them, but the idea did not garner support for fear of unintended negative consequences of misuse of the information.
The security apron of rough rocks just inside the main gate was the subject of a question from the floor as to when the rocks would be replaced with a smoother entrance. The apron is quite effective in slowing traffic, it was explained, albeit many residents see it as a car-damaging nuisance. That issue too, the audience was told, is a matter for continued discussion as is a question about when the caved-in portion of Bahia Kantenah would be fixed. The damage needs to be further analyzed along with repair options and budget considerations.
The Do-it-Yourself Strategy
Zoning: Several issues drew a sort-of do-it-yourself response from the Colonos. The reality is that the Colonos is akin to a fang-less tiger in some respects and often lacks the legal and/or political empowerment to perform the way some residents would prefer.
A case in point was raised by resident Martin Wohnlich who pressed for better enforcement of the building and zoning codes that guarantee certain neighborhood protections, such as barring disturbing business operations. He cited fishing boat operations in the canal and lots being used by craftsmen contrary to neighborhood zoning.
The Colonos explained that it can write letters to scofflaws and municipality seeking relief, but suggested a more meaningful intercession can only emerge from municipal agencies empowered with the muscle to enforce municipal law. And a better way to have that happen, the audience was told, was for residents – perhaps 20 0r 30 of them – to sign on to letters to the proper municipal authorities requesting enforcement.
Rubbish: Several residents complained about rubbish collection procedures and were told the process is improving as the result of meetings between the Colonos and private collection company. Mr. Rincon said there were several months of confusion as the municipality removed itself (stopped paying) from the rubbish process in Puerto Aventuras.
He said a morning routine for collection has now been established for 90 percent of the local route rather than the previous nighttime collection. He suggested to those complaining about the mess animals are causing with rubbish left out at night to get together in neighborhoods and ask all residents to put rubbish out in the morning, not the night before. Impenetrable rubbish bins would also help keep animals at bay.
Cats: Resident Trisha Caddey asked the Colonos officials what they could do about the growth in numbers of feral cats in some parts of the resort. Rincon said a woman who formerly volunteered to run spaying programs is no longer here and that the Colonos will work closely with any volunteers willing to take on the task.
Commenting on the relatively low turnout of voters for the meeting, Mr. Kaufer said he hoped it was because the constituency is contented with the Colonos service and handling of the budget. That view seemed to be underscored as the audience applauded the work of the board and vigilance committee after their reports were read into the record.
Questions and comments from the floor from interested citizens such as Mrs. Caddey, Mr. Angelo Mouzouropoulos, Mr. Wohnlich, Ms. Benton and others added welcomed diversity of thought and vision to the assembly process.
It was also announced that the fiscal year would change to the calendar year in 2015 to enhance accounting procedures and reports.
The Mail Bag …
It is with great sadness that we share the news of the passing of Joyce Patten, after a brief battle with cancer. She was a resident, along with her husband, Ken, here at Torre Turquesa. Our hearts go out to Ken and their families. We, along with many others here in Puerto Aventuras, will miss her vibrant smile and her enjoyment of their condo and our gated community here. She was always looking forward to spending as much time here as she could. We had hoped she would triumph over her illness and spend time here again this Spring; but, this was not to be.
The Obituary: PATTEN, Joyce, on December 4th, 2013. Late of Langley, B.C., age 57 years. Survived by her loving family, husband Ken; son Bryan; daughter Erin; 3 grandchildren, Mason, Shea, and Doryen; 2 brothers, and 1 sister. Celebration of Life Tuesday, December 10th at 3:30 p.m. at Riverside Community Church, 1477 Lougheed Hwy., Port Coquitlam. In lieu of flowers, donations to the BC Cancer Society, would be appreciated.
Signed/ Ray and Mari Gartside of Torre Turquesa
I just wanted to thank you for the Pelican Free Press. We own a condo in Puerto Aventuras, but for several reasons, we are not able to get down as often as we would like . Your newsletter is very informative and keeps us up to date with current happenings in Puerto Aventuras and the surrounding areas. My husband and I feel informed on important things that will affect our condo, and keep us in touch with the atmosphere of the paradise the Riviera Maya offers those who visit while we are home in New Jersey. We truly appreciate your efforts.
Signed/ Darlene Biasi
I had to waste more than 90 minutes at the Bancomer office in Centro Maya the other day just to change $250 US into pesos. It was another ridiculous example of the bank’s irritating array of regulations that don’t make any sense. After waiting in line for about 20 minutes, and asking the cashier to exchange my dollars for pesos, she said I had to first deposit the dollars into my account, which we did.
Then came the shocker! After making the deposit, the cashier said she could not give me my money because my account was locked and I had to see the preferred customer manager. Another long wait. He said I hadn’t used my account enough and it had been locked. In other words, it wasn’t locked to take my money, but it was locked to give it back to me? It took more time and paperwork to finally get the exchange done. Add my complete dissatisfaction to that of the other readers who have complained about Bancomer’s worsening service situation.
I hate to think of what their customers without “preferred” service have to go through. Isn’t there an efficient U.S. bank around here and if not, why not?
Signed/ Bonnie Rodriguez, Puerto Aventuras
Compiled from staff, contributor and media reports
HARD ROCK HOTELS, our newest and closest neighbor to the north, opened with a literal “Bang!” on Tuesday night with a surprise display of fireworks, followed by live music that was so loud in some sections of the Puerto Aventuras residential community that it felt like somebody had deposited powerful boom boxes in the bedrooms of residents. Fortunately, the volume was decreased at 11 p.m. to allow peace-loving folk to get some sleep. Now residents are worried if this is what they can expect from their neighbor on a regular basis. Hard Rock would do well to contain its unnecessarily loud music to its own property. Colonos GM Armando Rincon said he received complaints Wenesay morning and is trying to get in touch with Hard Rock’s Hard Rock’s resident manager to discuss the situation…BOOK SALES blossomed over the Thanksgiving weekend for volunteers of the PA Library. They reported brisk sales from their makeshift kiosk in front of Cafe Ole on the Dolphin Walk. The library, now with some 15,000 Spanish and English-language books, also received donations of new young adult fiction volumes in Spanish and several new English books in juvenile fiction and non-fiction…INCENTIVES to support development of new small businesses in the area will take effect in January to offset the increase in the VAT tax from 11 to 16 percent…EXPECT TAXI FARE HIKE of 35 percent in and around Playa del Carmen in January to offset hikes in federal taxes and gasoline prices…BRING MORE STUFF – Duty free limit for folks arriving by air and land has been upped to $500 USD by air and $300 USD by land…MRI DIAGNOSTICS will be available at Playa del Carmen’s main hospital sometime early next year, reports the state government. The diagnostic tool, purchased for 68 million pesos with federal help, is expected to serve 2 million people from the area…THREE RETAIL OUTLETS in Chetumal, the state capital, have been fined for not displaying prices on their products. They are Chedraui, Coppel and Bodega Aurrera…
Phrase a Week… with Gloria Contreras, state certified interpreter
Christmas is just around the corner. Spanish, you would say, “ La Navidad es sólo (justo) a la vuelta de la esquina”
Anyone interested in learning the language can please contact Ms. Contreras by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or Cel: 984-108-3517 .
Church Services… Please click Colonos icon on right top of page.
AA and Alanon meetings…
AA and ALANON meetings are held at the public library at the Colegio as follows:
AA Tuesdays at 5:30 p.m; Thursdays at 6 p.m. and Saturdays at noon. ALANON meeting is held Mondays at 5:30 p.m., also at the library. Meetings are “open” and non-members are welcomed to attend.