Linden fears loss of unspent subventions

The Ministry of Local Government’s tightening of the screws on municipalities across the country, is causing the Linden IMC to fear that it may lose its $23M subvention if it fails to make use of it by the end of the fiscal year.

According to IMC Chairman Orin Gordon, some of the policy changes stipulate that if the subventions are not expended by the end of the fiscal year the balance must be returned to the Local Government Ministry’s treasury. The Linden Town council has $23M in its coffers representing subventions dating back to 2010.

Jenella Bowen was appointed to the post of Town Clerk in July but due to the ‘Linden shutdown’ could not execute the mandate, which would have allowed for an added two months to exhaust the subventions on earmarked projects.  “She was in Georgetown being trained… since she was new to the job and in August when the protest subsided Ms Bowen started taking up her seat here in the Municipality,” Gordon told the media.

According to the IMC chair the policy changes took effect in September 2012. “Now if you don’t spend your subvention it goes right back into the Consolidated Fund and there is no guarantee that you will get it back in the following year,” he explained.

Currently the Linden Municipality has $3M of its 2010 subvention and its disbursements of $10M for 2011 and 2012 respectively. “So now here it is that a municipality that is not accustomed to spending more than $3M a year now having to spend $23M on general projects so you could well understand the new paradigm for them,” he said, adding that he did not understand why the sums weren’t spent before. “So now they are forced to do it in three or four months.”

The municipality has started using the money to repair several streets in the town including Greenheart, Pine and Mora, Hymara Road and Republic Avenue. “There is usually some amount of flooding whenever there is as little as two inches of rain so we have taken on the responsibility to deal with some of the main drains along Republic Avenue,” Gordon said. In addition, the council has undertaken a few projects in Wismar.

Gordon also revealed that recently there have been clashes with projects being undertaken by the Regional Administration. He explained that in the past the municipality would have submitted its work plan to the Regional Administration to allow a smooth collaboration in executing projects. “…And when their budget would have been approved they would come and sit with us and say this is what we have monies for,” but this has stopped since Regional Executive Officer Youlanda Hilliman took office, he noted. This has resulted in the municipality chasing after projects that the Region would have identified. “So we now have to go and identify another project that they are not on to because they are bigger,” he added.

However, Gordon said they intend to work on re-establishing the relationship with the Regional Administration. “I do understand Ms. Hilliman’s circumstances because she is new in that position (Region 10) and have a lot of things to correct so I do understand,” he said.

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