Expanded revenue base key to 2000 budget - Williams

with Cecil Griffith
City Council Round-Up
Stabroek News
March 6, 2000

Deputy Mayor Robert Williams, who is also chairman of the city council's Finance Committee, has sent letters to three political leaders, two business organizations and the trades union congress soliciting their support "in persuading the government to meet with representatives of the municipality."

The proposed meeting according to the Deputy Mayor, is to discuss new sources of revenue to aid the balancing of the city's budget for this year.

The letters indicate that the council's draft estimate of revenue and expenditure show a substantial deficit which should not be met by increases in rates.

The council has found itself in a bind, because it had promised that there will be no increase in rates before the year 2001.

The council had been asking for a meeting with the government since December 13, 1999.

The political leaders who have been sent letters are Mr Desmond Hoyte of the People's National Congress, Mr Manzoor Nadir of the United Force and the co-leader of the Working People's Alliance, Dr Rupert Roopnaraine.

The two business organisations are the Private Sector Commission and the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

In a letter dated, February 8, 2000 to the Minister within the Ministry of Local Government, Clinton Collymore, the chairman of the council's Finance Committee said "unless we receive the co-operation from the Central Government to enable us to increase our revenue base this year, conditions in the city will deteriorate rapidly and substantially exacerbating an already unhappy situation."

The minister's attention has been drawn to what the council has described as "a large sum of money still owed by the Central Government and its agencies to the Mayor and City Council of Georgetown for general rates for the period 1995-1999."

Minister Collymore has been told that unless the government co-operates and ways are found to raise new revenue, Day Care, Maternal and Child Welfare centres could face closure.

There will be no road works, a 40% reduction of drainage works, poor security for properties located in the city, including kokers and sluices.

The council has embarked on a process to engage the private sector in possible joint ventures in the development of its assets.

The Deputy Mayor had announced earlier in the year that the 2001 budget would be presented by mid-February.

The vendors reprieve The council's on-again off-gain approach towards street and pavement vendors is expected to begin in earnest tomorrow.

Town Clerk, Beulah Williams has assured me that this time around the council means business and staff from the city engineer's department and the constabulary will be mobilised, ready to deal with any eventualities.

Some of the vendors on Water Street in the vicinity of the commercial banks and commercial businesses although being given a one week removal reprieve have vowed to resist the council's order for them to remove all structures by six o'clock in the afternoons.

The removal exercise was scheduled for last Monday. After representation to Mayor Hamilton Green a decision was taken to give the vendors a one-week reprieve.

Questions are still being asked, why these unsightly wooden structures with their ugly-looking blue tarpaulin covers are still being allowed to remain during shopping and business hours.

Sometime ago when the city council comprised a 'vocal minority' and a 'silent majority' of councillors under Mayor Compton Young, a decision had been taken on what type of stalls should be erected in the Water Street business area. They were to be of a certain height, with a special type of lightweight material which could be easily dismantled. The tarpaulin covering was out.

The ten per cent rebate The tax rebate promised by the chairman of the Finance Committee more than one year ago to property owners in the city is still on.

After receiving a number of queries from anxious property owners about the rebate, I sought an explanation from the Town Clerk.

She said that all those persons who paid up their taxes for last year during the months of January to March in 1999 are entitled to a 10% rebate once they had paid for the entire year.

But here's the catch, according to the Town Clerk no actual cash would be handed over to the property owner who qualifies.

Instead, the ten per cent rebate will be shown as a pre-payment on the 2001 tax bill from the municipality.

Unfinished business Why can't there be a joint patrol comprising members of the city constabulary and the city engineer's department throughout the city checking on unauthorised building works and the existence of bottom house shops and boutiques in what used to be residential areas in the city?

And finally, which agency has the responsibility of ensuring that the area around the Public Buildings especially the pavements are free from all encumbrances including semi nude persons who take up their positions on Brickdam, opposite Demico House office?