City Hall announces $1.72B budget
-prays property owners will pay up By Samantha Alleyne
Stabroek News
March 15, 2003

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The Mayor & City Council yesterday unveiled a $1.72B budget to be partly financed by a hoped-for collection of $1.3B in current and outstanding taxes.

Chairman of the Finance Committee, Deputy Mayor Robert Williams in presenting the yearly budget at City Hall said the "balanced budget" was presented as "an act of faith in property-owners paying up." For the sixth consecutive year there will be no increase in property tax for 2003.

Meanwhile Williams painted a dim picture of Georgetown stating that it was "a sitting time bomb awaiting explosion... Our relationship with civil society has not improved during the period. Tensions, which resulted from activities inconsistent with the rule of law, and the growth of ethnic division did not help."

Also he pointed out that the level of unemployment and migration to the city was adding to societal problems, and further the apparent increase in drugs consumption and its effects was prominent in the face of inadequate remedial action by the relevant agencies.

He stated that the situation in the city and the country as a whole since he presented last year's budget, had worsened.

"No one can deny that the economic situation has declined radically and that recent events are the visible manifestations of my claim...

"What can your city offer you when Venezuelans strike, and our minibuses protest for an increase in fares? What can you expect from your city when GPL's future is uncertain, and GT&T's relationship with the government is strained? What can you expect when Guyana Water Inc bills have increased while the city has not increased property owner tax since 1998? Yes! What can you expect when each property owner is paying eleven Guyana dollars ($11.00) per year, for all the services we provide?"

Looking to the Almighty for help, Williams said he had asked from the outset that divine guidance and spiritual inflows would sustain citizens' physical and mental capacity to make it through what would most likely be a turbulent year.

In terms of garnering the money for the $1,719,790,742 budget, City Hall hopes to collect the amount of $1,377,000,000 in current and outstanding taxes with interest. Last year's actual expenditure reached 1.635B.

According to Williams this could be achieved by certain measures used by the City Treasurer's department in 2002, and an intense public education and communication drive.

"We expect that in 2003 the specialized Rate Recovery Unit will be operating at full pace to improve our revenue collection."

Further the council hopes to collect $125M from market revenue, $16M in subventions from the central government, $20M in processing plans, $1M in public health certificates, $15M from the day care system, $2M in cemetery fees and $5M from the Promenade Gardens.

According to Williams, the council's finance committee, in fashioning the budget, studied and examined the reports, estimates and projections of all the departments, divisions and units. It was only after an in-depth analysis was done that the council was satisfied that the 2003 budget could be presented.

He disclosed that the appropriate provisions were made under the Municipal and District Council's Act for the government to approve the expenditure of $445M to manage the council's operations until the passing of the budget.


The amount of $8.5M has been allocated for training programmes since these were described as being "crucial to any improvement to the administration and general operation."

While no amount was listed for drainage, Williams said that this year there would be desilting of the North Ruim-veldt sideline Dam canal, Cane View avenue canal, Cummings canal outfall, Commerce street outfall, Crithclow street canal, Roxanne Burnham canal, David Rose street canal, Railway Line and Middleton street main drain and Duncan street canal.

It is also proposed to desilt street and alleyway drains in Kitty, Lacytown, Kingston and Campbellville. Additionally, maintenance works would be done in Bourda, Alberttown, Queenstown, Cummingsburg, Stabroek, Lodge, Wortmanville, West Ruimveldt and North and South Ruimveldt.

The general works section of the City Engineer's Department would undertake these projects.

And in addition to the expenditure in the drainage section, it is also proposed that additional maintenance and rehabilitation work be executed using the council's work force and equipment.

These works include: the maintenance of street and alleyway drains in, Bourda, Alberttown, Queenstown, Cummingsburg, Stabroek, Lodge, Wortmanville, West Ruimveldt, and North and South Ruimveldt; capital road works in Bent street, Werk-en-Rust, Almond street, Albert street to Irving street, Crown street - Albert street to Irving street, Brutus street in Agricola and Middle street in McDoom.

Additionally, maintenance will be done on Anira, Abary, Forshaw, Albert and Princes streets and also Sugar Welfare road.

The sum of $175M has been allocated for road works in various sections.

It is also proposed for culverts to be installed in Kitty, North Ruimveldt, Newtown and Campbellville among others while bridges will be replaced at Castello Housing Scheme and Hogg street and Sussex street. Renovations are also proposed for City Hall, the former Chest Clinic building and Kitty market.

Twenty-five million dollars has been budgeted to provide street lighting.

Also the council is to access a US$1M loan from the Inter-American Bank (IDB) negotiated and signed since 1999, for the improvement of the solid waste management in Georgetown.

Of the possible sites identified by the IDB consultants, Eccles has been chosen, and Williams said hopefully during the latter part of this year, there may be movements in this area in the form of the council acquiring the 300 acres identified and an environmental assessment performed as a precursor to land filling in that area. The land has already been acquired from Guysuco.

Williams in his two-hour speech said there was a need for the completion of the city business/strategic plans for short, medium and long-term plans of the city.

He also looked forward to the finalisation and approval of the Greater Georgetown Development Plan to bring an end to disorderliness in the city; council's ability and willingness to be financially prudent; and for transparency in its various business transactions. All items of expenditure must be subjected to financial, accounting and budgetary standards, Williams said, and also due caution must also be exercised in subsequent consideration of the subhead grants and donations.

He also noted that City Hall's current software and hardware capabilities would have to be improved to cater for the needs of property owners.

In addition Williams hoped for the development of strong and solid partnerships with critical stakeholders and local communities at the level of the decision-making process and also for the active co-operation and support of all citizens of Georgetown.

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