Property owners respond to amnesty offer
Property owners have been responding favourably to the Georgetown municipality’s offer of amnesty, funds which are essential to help improve its current financial capabilities.
Deputy Mayor Robert Williams had related to this newspaper that several property owners who have debts amounting to several millions have been visiting the municipality in response to the amnesty mechanism.
Even City Mayor Hamilton Green, yesterday, expressed his satisfaction that residents and business owners alike have been responding to the amnesty call. However, he was unable to state the actual amount owed to the municipality by way of taxes.
The municipality, while still indebted to contractors, will be tasked with finding a whopping $70M by Friday to pay salaries.
Public Relations Officer, Royston King, said that the municipality continues to work diligently to garner the requisite sum, even as he expressed his appreciation that persons have been co-operating with the municipality.
However, King has announced that the amnesty offer which is geared at relieving property owners of accumulated taxes will only last until next week Wednesday.
He said that the measure was put in place in recognition of the fact that several residents are not financially able to meet their obligation to pay taxes amplified by the accumulated interest. In addition to the amnesty move, the municipality has been using the service of the judicial system to uncover taxes owed.
It was just recently that Acting Town Clerk, Yonette Pluck-Cort, had speculated that the municipality would have been able to recover from its protracted financial difficulties once matters that are before the courts yield the expected results.
“We have been able to settle with some of the persons who we had taken to court before and we have been stepping up our drive with the assistance of the City Constabulary which has been involved in getting errand tax payers to come forward and make their payments,” Pluck-Cort had related.
She revealed that the municipality had commenced serving demand notices so persons know they are in default and had urged them to visit the Treasury Department to make their payments.
Even at this level the municipality, according to the Acting Town Clerk, is willing to work out agreements with residents who are in arrears and are unable to make payments.
Residents have over the years been advised that they could make yearly payments or are afforded the option to make payments on a quarterly basis and not be in default.
But according to King, residents have been taking advantage of the arrangements in place, thus, the need for the even more innovative measure to encourage payment.
The collection of property taxes, according to King, represents about 80 percent of the municipal’s revenue base which is in fact below the requisite amount needed to manage the municipality optimally.
Mayor Green at several public for a, stressed the need for the municipal revenue base to be expanded, pointing to the fact that even if all property owners were to pay up their taxes the municipality would still likely remain in a cash-strapped position.