Parking meter project very troubling

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Dear Editor,

PLEASE permit me space in your newspaper to highlight my deep concerns and reservations about this parking meter agreement for the City of Georgetown, which has been in the news recently.The parking meter controversy raises many troubling questions for democracy, transparency and accountability. As a newly elected Councillor, I understand that there is need to generate more revenue — in order to manage the City of Georgetown effectively, implement much-needed projects, upgrade existing facilities, and embark on new developmental projects.

At the same time, proper accounting must be produced for all sums of money expended on behalf of the citizens of Georgetown. Generating more revenue for Georgetown cannot be done at the expense of democracy, transparency and accountability, since Councillors were elected by the citizens of Georgetown to represent them at the City Council to ensure that there is good governance and stewardship of the City’s business.

So an employer/employee relationship does not exist between the Mayor and the elected Councillors of Georgetown. As the current situation evolves, certain pronouncements by Mayor Patricia Chase-Green seem to suggest that the Councillors need not be consulted, nor should their approval be sought for contracts or agreements previously approved and now being implemented or are in various stages of implementation.

In addition, the Mayor seems to be upset that Councillors are voicing their concerns about the contractor and the terms of the contract. The Mayor should recognize that the due process they alluded to in justifying their trip to Mexico should also be applied to the rights of Councillors to inspect, review and sanction any contract or work which would be implemented or performed during their term in office.

The parking meter contract may seem very attractive to many people, since the biggest selling point seems to be the fact that the provider will be paying for the system upfront, with the City of Georgetown not having to come up with any cash. But there are other important considerations that should be looked at, including the fact that NPS/Smart City Solutions will receive the lion’s share (80%) of the revenues collected. In addition, it was reported that the contract will be for a term of forty-nine years, which means that an extremely long contract period will be binding on the City of Georgetown and future Councils. The City will not be able to buy out this contract, nor will it receive any increased percentage during the life of the contract; and the City’s income from the parking meter system is fixed at twenty percent for forty-nine years.

I have been involved with many contracts at the corporate level, and also in the investment field, and this contract as presented is not in the best interest of the people of Georgetown, and it should be re-negotiated with better terms or scrapped completely. In addition, any contract of this magnitude should be signed with the actual provider and not a middle man, which is what National Parking System is under this arrangement.

The current Council and Councillors have a right to review all agreements and contracts previously signed but yet to be implemented or are in any stage of implementation, since the current Council would be accountable for those projects. In addition, the Councillors must be consulted on all matters pertaining to the City of Georgetown, including areas where the Town Clerk has responsibility, as mandated in the Municipal and District Councils Act, since the elected Councillors and the full Council are the responsible parties.
BISHRAM KUPPEN,
Councillor
Mayor and City Council of Georgetown