Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Residential Security Fees

This image is at the entrance of our colonia. We have armed guards and other security personal that ride bikes around the neighborhood 24/7. We should be very glad they are here. Our security monthly fee is L400 ($21 US). I'm told that the security salary is L4000/month ($212 US). I'm also told that this amount is a point of contention between the guards and the neighborhood committee (or whatever they are called). The guards are saying they are underpaid and the committee just tells them to put a sock in it. There are just over 300 homes in this colonia and 16 guards. Total security fees collected each month are about L120,000 ($6,349 US). Total salaries are L64,000 ($3,386 US). The excess after salaries are paid are said to cover costs for bikes, guns & misc for the guards. Does it really cost L56,000/month ($2,063 US) for bikes, guns & misc? That is the big question.

A while back I wrote a post about the colonia staging a little protest and the news crews coming here. A new guarded residential like ours is being built next to ours and they are going to be tapping into our well. Who knows what will happen with that, but it wasn't enough to stop it so far.

Last week we got a notice at our door saying that we needed to pay an additional L500 ($26 US) for attorney's fees to stop our well hijacking or they would not accept our security fee. I have heard now that only about 20 residents have paid this L500 fee. The residents that are trying to pay just the security fee are being rejected and told they won't accept anything without the extra fee. So what does this mean? The guards are paid out of the security fees. If the committee won't accept payments, how are our guards going to work with no pay? I certainly wouldn't work without pay.

A woman that was on the neighborhood committee was recently kicked off because she started to ask too many questions and wanted to see documentations of expenses, etc. She was personally insulted by some guy on the committee who when he first moved here drove a crap car, but recently has been seen driving a nice new SUV. He handles all the finances. Oh, he must have got a promotion at his job - right? mmm hmmm.

It doesn't make sense to me. Another woman Papa talked to says that the case is already lost and there is nothing left to fight so the attorney fee that they want to charge is bogus. Maybe it will really suck to have the new residential tap into the well here. Maybe we'll lose water pressure. Maybe we will have to ration water. Who knows what will happen, but if collectively the community doesn't want to do anything about it, they shouldn't be strong armed into paying a bogus attorney fee that they don't want to pay. At least that's what I think.

Oh, and I asked Papa what will happen if someone doesn't pay the security fee. He said that the guards just don't lift the gate to let them in so they have to get out of their car and lift it themselves. Ha! I guess there is a problem with some people not paying the security fee. Ever.

Hopefully we'll still have guards by the end of the month.


Megan said...

Wow that is very interesting. It's nice to know that your colonia is protected though. Hopefully there will be guards at the end of the month still.

I remember when I stayed in Los Robles (in Tegus) there were security guards too. Seemed like a very safe area to me and I really felt safe :)

Aaron Ortiz said...

Wow, that sounds ugly, I hope you don't get entangled in it.

Jules Macaluso said...

So...because I deal with properties daily for my job and typically challenge security fees...I suggest request seeing actual expenses. Invoices to support the expenses, so everyone knows what is being collected / expended. They might not like it..but legally, that's the right thing for them to give to you. It's a scam if they don't, and I hope you don't have to pay. :)

Honduras Sprout said...

It is ugly - isn't it? Fortunately we are only renters and can leave once our lease is up if we want to. But this is one of the reasons why I DO NOT want to live in a guarded community. Ah...but there are so many reasons TO live in a guarded community!

Honduras Sprout said...

Jules - I know it's hard to imagine since what you say makes complete sense. Unfortunately this is Honduras. Legality and rules are often ignored and not so cut and dry here. A woman who was on the neighborhood committee did start asking questions asking to see expenses and invoices and she was kicked off the committee. It's clear that corruption is taking place, but it's hard to prove or stop. They could very easily make up fake invoices or who knows what to disqualify the case. I think the community has to collectively come together and "fire" the corruptos. So far that is not happening.

La Gringa said...

Oh, you wouldn't believe how familiar all this sounds. We are going through some similar problems right now, too. Thankfully, it doesn't relate to corruption among the neighbors, but it sure sounds like that is what is going on in your colonia.

I am really pushing our patronato (neighborhood association) for full transparency so there can be no ugly questions about where the money goes. Any honest person should be all for it, right?

Interesting that Aaron's comment is that he hopes you don't get entangled in it instead of hoping to rid the community of corruption. Fear and apathy are the best friends of corruption. It can't exist without them.

I hope things are going well for you in general. You haven't been posting much...

Honduras Sprout said...

Hey La Gringa~
I always feel like a famous person came to my blog when you visit ;)

Just last week we got a notice that the the community is calling a meeting to out the corrupto people and start fresh. I hope it happens!

Since we are only renting, it's hard to feel like our $.02 count. We hope to see a change, at least for our security guard friends.

They also are wanting to throw out the folks who oversee the green space funds too. It's gotten SO bad. Trash laying around and uncut grass.

I have been VERY occupied lately with my parents here for the 1st half of October and now my suegra here visiting the second half.

La Gringa said...

Famous! Pffffft!

As renters I guess you won't have to worry about it long term anyway. It is just incredible to me that people have no shame! To cheat their own neighbors and have to live with them forever. I just can't imagine being so low.

I like to think that it is the government corruptos who do so much damage but it seems to filter down to the lowest level, making me lose faith in mankind.

Have fun with your visitors!