Tax collection now computerised

City Council Round-Up
By Cecil Griffith
Stabroek News
November 22, 1999

Property owners of the city of Georgetown, your prayers have been answered.

City Hall has not only latched on to the Information Superhighway, but now has in place technological innovation aimed at improving its customer service to the community.

The good news is that the city council's tax collection section is now computerised. This means that the old system to which all ratepayers had been subjected over the years which included the manual checking of rate ledgers, then bin cards, after which the calculations of outstanding balances were done by hand followed by preparation of receipts again by hand before payments could be accepted by the cashier has been replaced.

A modern computer system set up by the Information Systems division of the municipality in now operational.

The computer programme known as Municipal Works, it was explained to me, allows ratepayers to proceed directly to the cashier, who can now access their account either by assessment number, lot number or owners name, calculate their outstanding balances and print their receipts 'in a matter of seconds.'

The new programme also allows for the quick and accurate preparation of demand notices, a job which in the past was time consuming and burdensome.

Demand notices will now be prepared and sent out, the second week in January of each year. The council's systems analyst Wayne Orderson disclosed that beginning this week the Kitty tax office is to be linked by remote control to the main server at city hall. This would allow ratepayers who use that facility, access to similar automated services currently employed in the city treasurer's department. The computerisation programme for the treasurer's department was part of a recommendation by an expert from the Canadian government who was seconded to city hall.

The overdraft problem

The cash-strapped council at its statutory meeting this afternoon is expected to discuss ways and means of finding money to pay a 20% across-the-board salary increase to all its workers except those in the city constabulary.

One of the local commercial banks has been asked to secure an extension of the bank overdraft ceiling to facilitate the pay out of the retroactive increase before the end of this month.

The two unions which represent the municipal workers are the Guyana Labour Union and the Guyana Local Government Officers union.

The possibility exists that the bank would be insisting that the council acquire some guarantee from the government before agreeing to the extension.

Millennium update

The council may have to scale back on its plans to usher in the new millennium, because of a shortage of funds.

Among them are a count down board at the junction of Regent Street and Avenue of the Republic, restoration of the concert hall, cleaning and clearing the area surrounding the Stabroek Market for an open air service to co-incide with the ushering in of the year 2000 and repairing of the Stabroek Market clock, making it possible for it to ring in the new year...just like old times.

The Stabroek Market clock which has not been in working order for the better part of Mayor Hamilton Green's two separate terms as 'chief citizen' is likely to be in the same condition when the new year dawns. This is because the structure is in a state which needs expert attention and a massive financial outlay. One councillor has described the structure as 'burnt toast'.

Unfinished business

Mayor Green has left for Miami where he is expected to meet with some of his counterparts in Florida. It is hoped that he would take time off from his official duties while in the US to investigate the sudden disappearance of the company which was contracted to supply uniforms for the city police. The company still owes the council about US$20,000. By the way, the batch of constables that attended the last Remembrance ceremony at the cenotaph all wore tunics which were tailored locally. The failure by the City Public Health department to act swiftly and condignly against persons who sell food on the pavements especially along Regent Street could turn out to be a monster which the council would be unable to control. Are these food handlers properly monitored? With the Christmas holidays approaching and more and more vendors setting up stalls on the city's pavements and even on the streets, shoppers this year will not only have to be careful what they buy, but what they eat.

A question for the Town Clerk....what has become of the plan announced some weeks ago by the deputy mayor councillor Robert Williams for joint exercises between the national and city police in the city?

In my last Round Up I referred to GGG councillor Anthony Boyce as the member who was prevented from speaking when the council dealt with the agenda item.. Announcements...The councillor involved was the PNC member Rameshwar Ramsaroop, who was eventually allowed to make his point.

Councillor Boyce told me last week that when the time comes he will speak, fearlessly.

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Guyana: Land of Six Peoples