Rates and taxes’ collection
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RATES and taxes for properties and other services are raised by the Neighbourhood Democratic Councils, towns, and the city of Georgetown, as authorised under the Local Government Laws.

These local democratic organs have the authority to establish their own police force and raise their own taxes, unlike the Regional Democratic Councils.

The City of Georgetown continues to attract widespread attention for various reasons. Within recent days, this had to do with City Council granting amnesty to citizens — to pay outstanding rates and taxes minus the accrued interest. City Council is reportedly owed in excess of $16B.

The council provides services such as garbage and refuge collection, day-care, public health, maintenance of city streets and Le Repentir Cemetery, management of the abattoir and markets, and keeping the surroundings clean. It is also responsible for drainage with a view to avoiding floods within the environs. This is quite a responsibility, and factually, these are services the people cannot do without. It is well known that the Council attracts criticisms and commendations on its management and delivery of services. The citizens, city mothers and fathers, and administrator are often at loggerheads for these very reasons.

The demands on the Council to provide acceptable services in every department are reasonable. Making demands for improved services comes with a responsibility incumbent on the citizens to pay their rates and taxes in a timely manner. Failure to make timely payments puts the council in a position in which it is unable to provide the quality of services expected of it. Non-payment affects the ability to pay staff and for the services contracted.

Quite recently, Central Government was asked for a $600M bailout. This request came at a time when the council is owed billions. Now is the time for the residents and businesses of Georgetown to take responsibility for the state of Georgetown. It is unfair to demand that City Council does its job when persons are refusing to discharge their financial obligations to the Council.

Nothing in life in free. To want a service carries a corresponding responsibility to be prepared to pay for it. Should paid service fall short of expectation, there is justification in being upset and demanding it be improved.

If truth be told, some are disinclined to honour their obligation for the services they expect. Withholding payment until Council provides quality service is an argument without merit. To provide services, resources have to be available, and the failure to pay rates and taxes is contributing to poor and non-existent services.

Georgetown has grown exponentially in size since the last tax assessment was done. Taxes have not kept pace with the growth of the City and its economic realities. What is currently being charged is not reflective of the existing market rates the Council pays to provide services. For City Council to function, it requires resources; but those resources must be garnered in a manner that is consistent with its mandate.

The desperation that led to an agreement to install parking meters as a revenue earner has been met with criticism, some not without justification. This desperation needs to be looked at within the context of the criticism levelled against the council for poor delivery of service, at a time when it has $16B outstanding. If persons honour their obligations, there may not be need for the exorbitant prices proposed for parking in the city.

It should not escape attention that waiving the interest on revenue past due questions how responsible we are as citizens. It is known that the law stipulates that if taxes are not paid on time, interest is accrued. Every citizen and business of Georgetown has a responsibility to obey the City’s by-laws. As there are justified expectations that the Council would provide services and respect the by-laws, there exists corresponding responsibility on the citizens to discharge their financial obligations to the City. All rate payers who have outstanding taxes are urged to make full use of the amnesty, which ends on 16th December, 2016. Maintenance of the cleanliness of the City and delivery of other services are equally their responsibility.

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