The early closure of the Haag Bosch landfill site during the holiday season was a result of the failure of the Mayor and City Council (M&CC) to bear the additional operations cost, according to Junior Local Government Minister Norman Whittaker.
Whittaker made this disclosure yesterday at a press conference, days after the Mayor of Georgetown Hamilton Green blamed the landfill site’s limited opening hours for restricting garbage collection during the holiday season.
Green had said, “We are extremely disappointed that when we tried to triple the cycle of collection on Christmas and Christmas Eve, we discovered that the Haag Bosch site was closed at 1 pm, which prevented us from increasing the cycle of collection.”
He had also stated that the M&CC asked for the site to be opened 24-hours to facilitate the increased garbage collection but this was not done.
However, Whittaker claimed that prior to the holiday season, a meeting with the city’s garbage contractors, such as Cevon’s Waste Management, Puran Brothers, BK International and members of the Georgetown municipality, was held to discuss the extended opening of the landfill site.
It was then that the council claimed that they do not have the money to fund such an initiative, which was the reason why Haag Bosch was closed at 1pm during the Christmas holidays.
The minister also suggested that there needs to be a better relationship between the mayor and his administration.
However, Green is claiming that he was never informed of the meeting being held when it is protocol for him to be informed, since he is the Mayor.
He also accused the ministry of micro-managing the operations of the municipality, while calling it improper for it to inform other members of the municipality and not inform him.
When asked about the municipality not having money to facilitate the extended opening of Haag Bosch as stated by the minster, Green replied, “The government ought to find the extra money for the facility knowing the financial position of the council when they have all the money. The minister should have contacted me when the officers indicated that there was no money.”
Meanwhile, in wake of the sacking of five Georgetown municipality officials on December 31, 2012, including the substantive Town Clerk, Treasurer and Engineer, Local Government Minister Ganga Persaud said the report done by the Audit Office into mismanagement at City Hall has been turned over to the police.
“The Auditor General report is with the police…we are hoping that in the near future we will be able to give a response regarding the persons and whether criminal charges will be taken,” Persaud added.
Town Clerk Yonette Pluck-Cort, City Engineer Gregory Erskine, acting City Treasurer Andrew Meredith, the Director of the Solid Waste Management Unit Hubert Urlin and Accounts Clerk Troy Isaacs were dismissed by the Minister, based on the findings of the Audit Office, which conducted the probe at his behest.
In the December 28, 2012 letter to Meredith, advising of the decision to terminate his services, Whittaker said the probe found evidence that revealed “several acts of transgressions of policies, rules and regulations; negligence in the execution of your duties as City Treasurer ag. and consequential significant demeaning of the integrity of the Office of City Treasurer….”
He said Meredith abused his authority and tarnished the image of the municipality, while adding that his “failure to achieve a reasonable standard of efficiency, progress and leadership” in the performance of his duties also contributed to a poor supervision of council staff and their inefficient performance.
With the sacking of the officers, Public Relation Officer of the M&CC, Royston King, stated that the council has appointed persons to act in those capacities until the vacancies are filled. Presently, Carol Sooba is now acting Town Clerk, Lloyd Alleyne is the acting City Engineer; and Ron McCalmon is the acting City Treasurer. King said that the council will be advertising for those positions soon.
Although Minister Persaud said that in the next week the ministry will be advertising for the positions as they await the required information for the vacancies, Deputy Mayor Patricia Chase-Green, when contacted, said that for the number of years that she was with the council, it was the municipality’s responsibility to do so and not the ministry.