M&CC repeats call for municipal court to tackle delinquent tax payers
The Mayor and City Council (M&CC) has reiterated calls for a Municipal Court to be established so that the Council can meaningfully deal with delinquent tax payers. Mayor Hamilton Green told reporters that because of the socio-political business environment, tax payers are using various means such as the courts to avoid paying their taxes.
He is of the view that a Municipal Court would go a long way in aiding the Council to rake in outstanding monies owed by private persons and entities. Green further believes that with the prosecution of those offenders, tax collection may become an easier task for the Council.
The Mayor, at a press conference early last week, said that the Council’s cash flow remains low because of its inability to adequately acquire outstanding monies owed to the Council. That difficulty, he said, has been in existence for some 20 years, but apart from that, Green said the Council now has to deal with those delinquent tax payers who are approaching the courts to prevent the Council from collecting what is due.
It is for this reason, he stated, that a request was made several years ago for the implementation of the Municipal Court. “What we needed and requested several years ago was a Municipal Court.” Green recollected that it was under the watch of then Chancellor, Desiree Bernard, that the call for the special court was made. “They promised to join us in our request to the Government for a special Municipal Court. When we take people to court for environmental offences and taxes, and the lawyers don’t turn up and our officers are kept for days, it is stressful and we really don’t have the personnel,” the Mayor said.
The Court Green said, never manifested. A ticket system was also requested, but that too, the Mayor said, never manifested. When the Chancellor and the relevant persons had at the time assisted with the court and had identified a specific magistrate, Green said after a few cases, the magistrate had been removed to an interior location.
In the meantime, City Hall continues to experience serious systematic problems. The Council has been long time complaining about the Government refusing to offer assistance, especially to tackle the ongoing garbage situation. They have charged on many occasions that the Council receives no money from that state and has to make do with the little the organizations rakes in.
Deficiencies has been preventing the City Council from efficiently executing their duties, and executives say that they are trying various ways to get the funds needed to operate an effective council, despite, the current political situation, the lack of financing and the shortage of personnel.
To the end of last year, the Council was able to draw in close to $140M through its 42-day amnesty period. Mayor Green said more individual taxpayers had responded to the amnesty period to clear outstanding rates and taxes owed than the businesses that owe the Council huge amounts.
During the amnesty period, businesses that were before the Court for not paying the Council rates and taxes were given an option to settle out of Court. Of the 20 businesses that were before Court only four decided to settle. Those who had paid their taxes within a certain time frame were given varying waiver on interest.
Ironically, the Council stated, the problem of delinquent tax payers remain with the larger debtors who have shown a preference to use the Court for non- payment, instead of the amnesty period.