City Hall presents $1.7B budget
Stall rents, processing fees climb
High volume pump to help with drainage

By Desiree Jodah
Stabroek News
April 22, 2000

Stallholders will have to pay increased rents, Deputy Mayor and Chairman of the Mayor and City Council's (M&CC) Finance Committee, Robert Williams disclosed when he presented City Hall's $1.7 billion budget on Thursday.

While there will be no increase in taxes, there will be hikes in processing fees. Greater effort would be put into the collection of taxes, especially in areas where huge profits are reported. The M&CC will utilise legal avenues to recover taxes as well as the Valuation Rating Appeals Panel.

Expenditure this year will be concentrated on drainage, roads, security, community activities, solid waste management, the rehabilitation of infrastructure, day care, and maternal and child welfare.

Williams noted that the projected revenue figure was $1,705,379,448, which was the same as its expenditure for the year thereby constituting a balanced budget.

The M&CC earmarked $105 million for rehabilitation and maintenance of roads; the worst streets and the main traffic routes. This would be in addition to the $216 million loan from the Inter-American Development Bank for roads development.

In keeping with council's policy to place much more emphasis on the maintenance of drainage in the city, the sum of $105 million would be expended in this area. This includes funds for the hire of vehicles; the acquisition of a new backhoe and funds for contractual maintenance works to be done by community groups in an organised way. The council's drainage programme should be boosted by the acquisition of a high volume pump costing US$100,000, which was promised by the government through the Civil Defence Commission this year. The pump would be used when the sluices are closed during the high tide.

With the increase in fines, the council would address, with more vigour, breaches of the building by-laws. The City Engineer's Department is expected to redouble its efforts to enforce the laws and prosecute offenders.

Council will fork out the sum of $2 million in refurbishing the offices and store rooms in the Promenade Gardens. At the same time, it will open a flower shop as part of its effort to raise revenue. Williams said that when the draft estimates were first considered there was a deficit of $1 billion. He said that since then the administration re-examined the figures and made the necessary adjustments. These alterations resulted in the reduction of employment costs by $178 million; capital works by $466 million and vehicle and equipment outlays by $370 million.

The M&CC is expected to garner its resources this year from taxes, which represents sums of money owed the municipality for a number of years; market fees; public health fees; engineering processing fees; constabulary fines and subventions; legal processes to ensure payment of all outstanding taxes by property owners; property-to-property surveys to obtain taxes from properties which might be assessed at a lower value than required and the funding of three projects by the IDB.

In a bid to maximise its collection of taxes this year, the M&CC will decentralise its effort to certain parts of the city such as Kitty, Agricola and East Ruimveldt. These may take the form of sub-offices or the presence of officers on special days to accept payment.

The three projects to be funded by the IDB are the temporary landfill site at a cost of US$900,000; the Urban Development Programme phase one to the tune of US$1.7 million, which had been approved and a projected US$6 million for solid waste management. The executing agency will provide US$100,000 for the temporary landfill site in addition to the US$900,000 from the IDB.

Under the IDB/GOG agreement, US$200,000 would be spent on public awareness to address basic environmental concerns. Two pilot programmes would be executed in mixed commercial and residential areas in Lodge and from Regent Street to D'Urban Park.

Several projects will be conducted under the Urban Rehabilitation Programme funded by the IDB. These include repairs to the Stabroek Market at a cost of US$243,000; repairs and rehabilitation to the abattoir facilities at the cost of US$203,000; revamping of the council's workshop with a sum of US$28,000 and the rehabilitation of certain streets in Georgetown. These streets include Norton Street, Lodge on which US$385,000 is to be expended; Robb Street, US$362,000; Water Street, West Ruimveldt, US$48,000; Marigold Street, West Ruimveldt, US$72,000; Lamaha Avenue, Guyhoc, US$258,000; Go Slow Avenue, US$35,000 and Third Street, Alexander Village US$80,000.