The presentation of the Georgetown Municipal Budget is likely to be unveiled sometime this week following a series of inter-departmental discussions which were still ongoing up to last week.
According to Acting Public Relations Officer, Debra Lewis, each Department Head was required to justify spending in their respective departments in the quest to keep the municipality functioning in an optimal and efficient manner this year.
Lewis had speculated that the discussions were likely to be completed in order to facilitate the budget presentation this month end.
It was early February last year that the municipality was able to unveil a whopping
$2.1 Billion budget, which according to Deputy Mayor and Chairman of the Finance Committee, Robert Williams, was intended to aid the municipality’s ability to deliver the services necessary to maintain the city of Georgetown last year.
The value of the budget, Williams had disclosed was decided upon following a process of consultations and considerations, one of the most important being that there was no increase in the percentage assessment of property taxes since 1998. Williams had sought to highlight that even last year there were still a number of un-assessed properties, both in terms of construction, expansion and the change of use.
As a result, he divulged that the municipality had agreed that in the first half of last year to focus on capturing the information as it relates to the development of the city with the assistance of the Chief Valuation Officer and private assessors. This move, he had divulged was geared at determining the new value and apply the current formula to derive new assessment figures.
The properties in the City, Williams disclosed, were assessed some five years ago on the basis of a new system, or formula which not only captures a complete view of the property aerial and otherwise but stored each property in a data base. The data base, the Deputy Mayor had related, allows for comparison at anytime of what is captured and of what is on the ground in reality and also provides for the properties to be assessed on the basis of a market value as against a rental mode.
And to ensure that some headway was made in this regard, Williams noted that it was the expressed desire and mandate that the municipal administration proceeded vigorously in engaging in judicial processes to recover all outstanding taxes.
Williams had articulated that Council is of the view that there was more talk than action in this area, adding that even when concession is granted, maximum use is not made.
As such, he had amplified that the municipality will work towards improving its data base to include deletion of properties exempted under the Law Section 212 within the ambit of collectable taxes and update the tax register to take account of Domestic Properties used for commercial purposes in the city.
In addition to the action in the area of property taxes, even though the performance the previous year was excellent, Williams said that Council is still of the view that more can be collected in revenue from markets and market related activities.
As a consequence, he said that it was decided that the entire revenue collection system for the markets will be computerised and vendors/stall holders will be treated in a similar way as with the utility companies.
This newspaper has not been informed that the municipality was able to reach the projected targets that were outlined last year.
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