…widens revenue collection with new fees
The Mayor and City Council (M&CC) yesterday unveiled its 2017 budget under the theme ‘Revitalizing local communities in the context of a green economy’. Delivering the $2.8B budget speech in the M&CC chambers, Chairman of the Finance
Committee, Oscar Clarke, said that this year’s budget is being presented under a new dispensation of local democracy.
Clarke said that the council is now able to exercise its full authority, and is no longer controlled by central government.
He stated that currently the revenue base of the council is inadequate and this is impeding the work of that body to deliver the services that are needed. Towards this end a number of fees and increases were announced.
In his justification for these increases, Clarke said citizens should be reminded that Georgetown is the capital and certain basic standards are required. He noted that good governance and management of the city cannot be the sole responsibility of the council; there should be a collaborative effort to bring the city on par with international standards.
In the one-hour long presentation, Clarke announced a new burial maintenance fee. He said that this fee will ensure the good upkeep of cemeteries across the city.
Clarke said, “For generations, council has been subsidizing the operational cost of these facilities.” The veteran councilor said that the municipality is no longer in a financial position to foot that bill for the dead.
Property Rates increase
There will be a 10 percent increase across the board on property rates across the city this year. It was noted that there was no increase since 1998 although there are a number of unassessed properties across the city.
Clarke said that property owners ought to recognize that rates paid in 1998 based on the sizes of property can no longer be applicable.
Commercial waste fee
Clarke noted that the city’s resources are stretched thin with the $1M that is set aside to collect 38 tonnes of commercial waste every day. Towards this end it was announced that a commercial waste fee will be introduced on businesses in the first quarter of this year.
According to the M&CC the revenue from this new fee will be channeled towards green health and fitness facilities for children in the capital.
Public Health fee
This fee is to help the council maintain a clean city with standards that are internationally acceptable. This fee will affect salons, which includes barber shops, hairdressing and other forms of cosmetology.
Plans are also in train to computerize the revenue collections at municipal markets. The council noted that it recognizes a need for more collection at market places. It was noted that the computerization will allow the council to capture everyone who ply their trades there.
Clarke noted that the council presently owes the Guyana Power and Light $1B for unpaid street lighting bill. He said that the council is in talk with central government and the power company to resolve this. This, he believes, should underscore the need for these new measures and fees.
To loud banging on the table Clarke called for the council to come together to achieve what it sets out to do in 2017. He said that there can be no more divisions and infighting since this will not augur well for an ever changing Georgetown.
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