City Hall collapsing, yet $20M budgeted for celebrations
The historic City Hall at Regent Street and Avenue of the Republic is in dire need of repairs as sections continue to fall off, but instead of focusing on the building, the cash-strapped council has approved a budget of $20 million for city celebrations.
At a statutory meeting held yesterday at City Hall, both matters came to the council floor. Town Clerk Royston King informed the council that a report from the city engineer’s department has warned that the building is becoming inhabitable.
The warning was prompted when a part of the northern side of the building, which faces Regent Street, fell off last week.
“The building is in a state that we can no longer continue. What we have over our heads that’s preventing storm water from coming through on us when it rains is a piece of canvas… that is preventing the water from coming down,” King stated.
City Mayor, Patricia Chase-Green said if they have to move, the Council is not in any position to rent a building.
“I am being frank; we can’t afford it. You are going to get a bill for no less than $1M per month. The time we are going to spend money to rent a building, you might as well take that money to build a building. At the end of the day you have something and you are not paying the bank,’ Chase-Green stated.
The Mayor said that as far as she is aware, the council was told that they should continue to occupy the building, because evacuating it will result in rapid deterioration.
“We should stop and take stock of what we have here now and decide if it is livable for the next two to three years. It is not, and so therefore we have to make arrangements to remove ourselves from it as early as possible to save the loss of life and limb by anyone, because I would not like to know a day anyone is coming downstairs to pay taxes and a piece of metal, wood or window frame falls down. This is why I say we have to look at it seriously,” Chase-Green noted.
The building has been designated a national monument and is under the control of the National Trust of Guyana. The mayor suggested plans to seek money from private donors and citizens to save the building.
On the other hand, the council also plans to seek financial help to fund celebrations for the city with an approved budget of $20 million.
Dubbed ‘City Week’ to commemorate Georgetown becoming a town, the cost of the celebration was questioned by Councillor Carolyn Caesar, who shared the view that the money could be better spent to pay amounts owed by the city administration to the National Insurance Scheme (NIS).
Councillor Akeem Peter urged councillors not to treat the $20 million as a budgeted amount that can either increase or decrease. However, he noted that council’s finances may not be used entirely to fund the celebrations.
The plan received support from Councillor Malcolm Ferreira who shared the view that all other towns have celebrations. However, he did not agree with the approved budget.
The administration at City Hall has faced a string of accusations of bad spending and being unable to account for money provided by Government to undertake projects in the capital. Last week, Auditor General Deodat Sharma announced plans to start a forensic audit of the city’s books after waiting for over a year on documents to support expenditure of over $500M.
Oct 16, 2018By Sean Devers in Trinidad In association with Regal, Vnet, Noble House Seafoods & Cascadia Hotel In murky conditions and played before virtually empty stands, Guyana Jaguars, led by a 79-run...
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