Municipalities underperformed last year – Whittaker

Minister within the Local Government Ministry, Norman Whittaker said that none of the municipalities performed to expectations last year, citing a disconnect between the councils and the people.

Whittaker said the municipalities were ignorant of the budgeted amount of revenue.

“Some of them operate like a commercial bank,” he stated, pointing out the need for interaction between the councils and citizens.

He related that the evaluation came out of a ministry discussion while reviewing last year’s performance. “The council needs to be more proactive,” he charged.

He noted that the disconnect had contributed to citizens not understanding the responsibilities of council, pointing out that if they did then they would cooperate with the council.

Whittaker also stated that some councils were aware of infringements where some homes were housing businesses in their lower flats and were not reporting it. “The rate they pay for the upstairs [where] they live can’t be the same rate for the downstairs,” he said, emphasizing his disappointment with councils that were aware of the violation.

He stated the need for a debt collection body to be established. “We want to see all six municipalities having a debt collection unit with proactive persons reaching out, in humane ways to those owing outstanding debts, impressing on them the challenges faced by the ministry and the need for the revenue,” he said. “We understand the existing rates and taxes that people pay are based on parameters set decades ago,” he stated, pointing to a need for revaluation of buildings.

He said municipalities suffer losses because of inefficient valuation and changes in the classification of buildings.

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