Public consultation garners mixed response

first_img$200 garbage fee proposal…defaulters will see no garbage collectionFollowing Mayor Patricia Chase Green’s order for Town Clerk Royston King to hold at least one consultation before implementing a monthly $200 garbage collection fee in the capital city, the Georgetown Mayor and City Council (M&CC) on Thursday hosted its first public consultation on the measure which garnered aA few members of the public gathered at City Hall on Friday when they ironed out issues related to a garbage collection fee in the city. One elected councillor, Deputy Mayor Lionel Jaikarran was present at the meetingmixed response from members of the public.Participants particularly took umbrage that with the exception of Deputy Mayor Lionel Jaikarran, no other elected Councillor was present at the meeting held at City Hall. In an aim to calm the brief show of tension, M&CC Public Relations Officer Debra Lewis said that Thursday’s exercise was the first of several “conversations” that would be held in the various communities across Georgetown on the implementation of the fee.Earlier this month, Town Clerk Royston King opted to impose the $200 fee, but the plan was halted after Mayor Chase Green observed that the full council was yet to approve the proposal. On Thursday, King was not present at the first public consultation, but his Deputy, Sharon Harry-Munroe, was there. The Deputy Town Clerk highlighted the shortfalls of the rates and taxes being unchanged since 1994 and further told the gathering that the city having to offset the service “has become burdensome”.At the meeting, it was observed that outside of Georgetown, some persons were paying as much as $400 for garbage collection services and on that note, some of the few members of the public present contended that the $200 fee was affordable. One such person was pensioner Michael Nelson, of D’Andrade Street, Newtown, saying that he did not mind taking the few dollars out of the $500 increase which was given for his Old Age Pension for 2018.“I willing to pay the increase to see Georgetown return to what it was – a garden city,” the pensioner stressed.Desire Younge, of Lamaha Springs, indicated that she was comfortable paying the $200 fee, but Sterling DeLima, of Subryanville, opposed any increase, saying that he expected services for his rates and taxes. DeLima also contended that he would be affected if he opted to pay and his neighbour did not and pondered what measures the city would utilise to ensure that funds were paid over.In a lengthy response, Solid Waste Management Director Walter Narine said all payments would be made at City Hall and noted that by-laws were in the pipeline to deal with defaulters who refuse to pay the fee.“We will not be collecting garbage from people who do not pay their fee,” Narine affirmed.As the consultation continued, more residents reiterated calls for the fee to be included in their overall rates and taxes and said that there ought to be more consultations with Councillors of the various constituencies. City Hall’s staff again highlighted that many persons were not forthcoming with their rates and taxes which continued to hamper the organisation from effective operation.Disparity of taxesAnother issue highlighted was the disparity of taxes where owners of homes converted into apartments were paying the same rates as individual homes. On this, some members of the public called for a revaluation of the properties in the capital city to ensure that there was more equitable tax payment rather than implementing an across-the-board garbage fee for all residential homeowners.City Council Accounting Manager John Douglas, however, observed that the Council was encountering increased costs with no suitable expenditure and that the city was asking each citizen to subsidise its garbage collection at a rate of 30 per cent. His colleague Narine explained that calculations suggested that it cost the city about $536 to transport garbage from a receptacle to the landfill.The meeting lasted about two hours.At the last statutory meeting at the City Council level, the Town Clerk had observed that the collection fee was discussed at the level of the Finance Committee and was raised at the last statutory meeting, but no decisive action was taken on it. He had also claimed that the matter was put in the public sphere for feedback and they had received positive feedback ever since. However, Chairman of the Finance Committee, Councillor Oscar Clarke had stated that a firm proposal with all the implications must be brought to the Council for agreement and approval before the charge was implemented, a contention that he reiterated at a meeting prior to Thursday’s public discussion. (Shemuel Fanfair)last_img read more