…votes out TC as signatory to financial transactions
The Georgetown Mayor and City Councilors (M&CC) are convinced that to reclaim control of its affairs and to have its orders executed, it must regain its financial authority.
The body has once again voted out Councillor Junior Garrett as the Chairman of the Council’s Finance Committee and also voted out acting Town Clerk Carol Sooba as signatory to any of the Council’s financial documents.
The body wants Garrett to be removed since they claim that he is irresponsible when it comes to spending the Council’s money. They said that they have no confidence in Garrett or Sooba.
The no confidence motion against Sooba recommends that Royston King should replace her to sign on behalf of the Council.
The first motion at yesterday’s statutory meeting was moved by Councillor Ranwell Jordan and seconded by Deputy Mayor Patricia Chase- Green. Jordan said among several other things, Garrett has signed off on vouchers and other financial documents without the permission of the Council and operates imperially in the execution of his duties. Jordan highlighted particular instances where Garrett’s actions were of concern to the Councillors.
Councillor Kamla Devi-Ross was however, unconvinced about the removal of Garrett since she said that he was the only qualified person within the lot of councillors to conduct financial work on behalf of the Council.
In his defence, Garrett reiterated that he was the most qualified person in the Council to operate as Finance Chairman. According to him, not every voucher must be brought to the Committee, especially when the project is bringing in large sums of money for the Council. He stated that he along with the acting Town Clerk has been able to significantly improve the Council’s financial position.
The Deputy Mayor Patricia Chase -Green however, noted that the law states that any monies to be spent over the value of $100,000 must be brought to the Finance Committee. She noted that all the monies he is accused of approving were above this amount. Chase-Green went on to list the many areas that need to be addressed while money is being approved for non-priority items such as chairs for the Town Clerk.
The motion was passed with 15 councillors in favour, six against and two abstainers.
The second motion was moved by the Deputy Mayor and seconded by Councillor Jordan. The Deputy Mayor stated that Section 149 of the Municipal and District Council Act 28:01 notes that all payments on account of the Council shall be paid by the Treasurer and an order signed by two councillors who are members of the Finance Committee. It also includes the countersigning of the clerk (Town Clerk) “or such other Local Government officer as may be authorized by the Council…”
This motion thus sought to have Royston King, the Council’s Communications Director, signing in place of Sooba.
Councillor Oscar Clarke was skeptical however, that King was legally entailed to act in that capacity. He asked the Council for some clarity before his vote could be given. Councillor Garrett claimed that the motion against the Town Clerk, was also bordering on illegality given the ruling of the Chief Justice that Sooba was the de facto Town Clerk.
He questioned also the legitimacy of the signing power of a senior officer being given to a “junior staff”
Councillor Jordan pointed out however, that the Council has a right to determine who it wants as its signatory. Chase-Green added that the Council was not challenging Sooba’s position, but was replacing her as a signatory since the law said, officers such as the Treasurer, City Engineer and Clerk of Markets could be signatories. She said legal advice was also sought on the matter.
In her defence, the Town Clerk (Ag) advised the Council that they have no such power to remove her as signatory. In a circulated notice, she claimed that the Council was acting illegally.
Her claim was met with responses that nowhere in the law does it say the Town Clerk is the designated signatory to financial documents. Twelve persons voted in favour of the motion, seven against and four abstained.
The decisions taken are to take effect ‘forthwith’.
Photo in Server Tuesday as council
Caption: One of the Councillors makes a point during yesterday’s proceedings
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