City's budget to be ready in two weeks City Council Round-Up
by Cecil Griffith
Stabroek News
April 2, 2002

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The Georgetown City Council's 2002 budget should be ready in two weeks' time.

Chairman of the council's finance committee, Deputy Mayor Robert Williams, has disclosed that the main feature of the document is the implementation of a restructuring and institutional strengthening plan within the administration.

The plan was designed by a two-member team of Guyanese consultants and was recently accepted by city `fathers and mothers.'

Among the departments which will get immediate attention are the constabulary, public relations and the city treasurer's department. The personnel section is also a priority.

Speaking to this column the finance committee chairman said he was confident that increases in taxes could be avoided. "We are now putting the finishing touches to the 2002 budget with the focus on improving the service to out taxpayers and citizens of Georgetown..."

One of the recommendations by the consultants is the streamlining of the public relations department transforming it into a public communications unit.

The deputy mayor has expressed his concern over an advertisement in one of the newspapers, last week relating to the Toolsie Persaud Ltd land on Water Street, inviting tenders for the development of the site to accommodate vendors from Water Street.

He said the council should have been asked to make an input.

An insoluble problem?

Vending in the city was once again high on the agenda at last week's statutory meeting with Mayor Hamilton Green admitting, "We have not been able to deal with it..."

He suggested during a lively debate the revival of a plan to identify spots in several parts of the city to accommodate the street and pavement sellers, while insisting that such a plan be rigorously monitored by City Hall "We must face reality...," the mayor added.

But PPP/Civic (PPP/C) councillor Rocky Mann wanted to know from the `chief citizen' if he was saying that the vendors have a right to be where they are, which is all over the city. "I am not in favour," he concluded.

A Good and Green Guyana (AGGG) councillor Patricia Chase-Green said the council has done everything to deal with the vendor problem to no avail and it was evident that the city constabulary was unable to handle this phenomenon as far as maintaining order and the laws.

She drew councillors' attention to the encroachment by vendors of the pavements and even roadways of certain parts of Regent, Robb and Camp streets.

The dray cart menace

Animal drawn and dray carts, which have taken over parts of Alexander and Charlotte streets in the vicinity of the Nurses Association is posing a dilemma for councillors.

At the last statutory meeting, Chase-Green, a nurse by profession, said that during a recent visit to the area she counted about one dozen dray carts along Alexander and Charlotte streets and took issue with the deputy mayor when he told the meeting that the council must find somewhere to put these operators.

"The area in question was never earmarked for animal drawn carts and drays," the GGG councillor countered, drawing the attention of her colleagues around the horseshoe table to the insanitary conditions, with both animals and dray cart drivers contributing to the unhealthy state of affairs.

The leader of the PNC/R faction on the council Oscar Clarke said the council had the responsibility of finding somewhere for these operators. "We must regulate them."

Mayor Green, while admitting that there was no easy way to find a middle ground, spoke about the existing economic, political and social environment and called on the administration to seek the assistance of the police and the Ministry of Trade.


The cemetery

The spotlight was once again on the cemetery when it was revealed by the city treasurer that despite a directive from the council to the Town Clerk that all financial transactions pertaining to the cemetery should be done at the city treasurer's department, money was still being collected at the sexton's office at Le Repentir.

It was also disclosed that most of the recommendations by a committee of councillors headed by former PNC/R mayor Ranwell Jordan and including GGG councillors Harold Kissoon and PPP/C Rudolph Harris are still to be implemented. The committee did its investigations in 1998, with on-site visits.

Derelict buildings

The recent fire in Forshaw Street in Queenstown should serve as a wake-up call to City Hall to get its act together by taking quick action against owners of derelict structures in the city. It was drawn to my attention that there is a structure just two doors from the World Garland Hall on Fifth Street now occupied by a vagrant who cooks at any time of the day or night using the most unorthodox methods and utensils to prepare meals.

Traffic build-up

That traffic build-up on Robb Street between Bourda Street and Orange Walk needs the urgent attention of City Hall and the traffic police. Shoppers are left at the mercy of hire and privately operated taxi drivers and their vehicles, which are parked on both sides of the street between the two markets.