Wisdom of new admin building for city questioned
City Council Round-Up
By Cecil Griffith
October 20, 2003
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In a reference to the revenue collected in 2002 the Deputy Mayor noted that “during the year under review our performance has not been satisfactory in material terms... however we have been able to determine our weaknesses and establish mechanisms ready for implementation to improve our performance this year...”
Seven months later the situation has not improved.
Only last Monday at the council’s meeting the Finance Committee’s Chairman bitterly complained about the works being carried out on a new building in the City Hall compound.
After alerting councillors to the serious financial situation facing the municipality as preparations begin for consideration of the 2004 budget the deputy mayor raised questions about the way in which the administration is going about the building works.
According to the deputy mayor the Finance Committee is yet to be briefed on the methodology and costing of the proposed administration building while asking, “should we go ahead with this project?”
Councillor Williams said so far, he has seen no vouchers for the materials now at the site and demanded a proper financial statement and work programme from the administration. He suggested that the council allocate money for works which would bring revenue to the council such as the Meat and Food Department, and better accommodation for members of the city police.
Town Clerk Beulah Williams informed the meeting that the project had been approved in the 2003 budget and foundation works are now being done. The assurance was given that resources are available in the form of equipment and manpower for the completion of the first phase.
It should be noted that the employment cost represented 52% of the council’s total expenditure in 2002.
Mayor Hamilton Green while acknowledging that the Town Clerk had acted in good faith chided her for not following certain basic procedures.
The ‘Chief Citizen’ said he had been left in the dark over the construction of the building, which is just a few yards from his office. He related how he had heard noise while in office one day, but concluded that the deputy mayor had been aware of what was going on “since whatever is done by him is done by me…”
On a proposal by the ‘chief citizen’, the city engineer, the Town Clerk and the Deputy Mayor are to meet and discuss whether the building project should go ahead with the council taking the final decision.
A reality check
The suggestion to take a careful look at the construction of the administration building was assessed in the light of the parlous state of the council’s finances. At a recent meeting of the Finance Committee the City Treasurer submitted a statement up to the end of August 2003 which shows that City Hall is indebted to the tune of $140M. The overdraft facility had exceeded the limit of $50M, and the cash flow is not adequate to satisfy payments for expenditure incurred.
To put it mildly, the council is financially embarrassed… and before year end the situation could get worse.
Meanwhile city `fathers’ and `mothers’ continue to talk about solid waste including the setting up of a new department to deal with the landfill site, employing more and more consultants whose findings are pigeon holed and lavish plans for getting involved in information technology. As one senior officer employed by the council would remark in such circumstances... “No-body cares…” true or false... the answer is in the hands of the country’s political leaders. The late President Desmond Hoyte and Leader of the People’s National Congress Reform, when asked about the present make up of the city council and what it had achieved over the years when he was interviewed on the weekly GTV One on One programme.. responded in his inimitable style and tone... “They have done nothing... they should all go”.
The PRO’s job
Over the years Mayor Green has been complaining about the output from the public relations officer Royston King with the obvious conclusion that there is no love lost between the `Chief Citizen’ and this officer of the council.
At the last statutory meeting the mayor was moved to declared that the PRO’s office is “no longer functionable..” and went on to identify instances in which the PRO has been absent from important events and meetings which demanded his presence, citing the visit of a foreign delegation to his office and the one-day clean up exercise in the city and on the seawall in which the council was the lead organisation along with the Pan American Health Organisation office in Guyana.
What angered Mayor Green is no excuses were forthcoming when the lapses occurred… and he enquired from the Town Clerk after she had replied, not to be so protective of her officers... some of whom he described as drones.
The `Chief Citizen’ had to withdraw a statement that the PRO was using his computer to conduct his personal business. People’s National Congress Reform Councillor Ranwell Jordan challenged the Mayor to provide the proof of his accusation. The statement was withdrawn.
Running true to form the City Constabulary has failed to maintain its vigilance at the `Robert Williams Mall’ from Cummings to Light Street. Last Saturday morning as late as 7:30 about a dozen young men could be seen either sleeping… one of them was lying on a mattress… or preparing meals on a make-shift fireside. The smell was unbearable.
The constabulary had raided the area late last month and transported the junkies and vagrants to someplace un-known...but they were back within a week. Keep up the pressure chief constable or else these people would be taking up residence on that part of the Mall opposite the residence of the Late President Desmond Hoyte on North road.
Rockliffe R. Pitt has made an offer to the city council of his services free of cost... He says he is a building and Civil Engineer. After examining his credentials, the council should put Mr. Pitt to the test because the city needs professional help in many areas.