Single computer snags tax payments at City Hall

-engineer’s absence delays review of illegal constructions

There is only one functioning computer system in the city’s treasury department, resulting in bottlenecks in tax collection.

“There are serious systematic problems that need surgery,” Mayor Hamilton Green admitted at yesterday’s statutory meeting of the Mayor and City Council (M&CC), which heard that one taxpayer waited at City Hall for hours with $1 million, before leaving out of frustration. Green also spoke of similar occurrences, citing a number of other taxpayers.

City Treasurer Andrew Meredith indicated that the M&CC has so far been unable to hire a cashier and as a result other staff members have been required to work extra hours. “We’ve gotten to a point where we are opening at 8 am,” Meredith stated.

However, Councillor Patricia Chase-Green, who highlighted the situation being faced by taxpayers, challenged him on the need for a cashier when the potential candidate will be unable to carry out his/her duties on a part-time system, given that there is only a single working computer in the department. This will not solve the problem, she pointed out. “I will not agree for any new staff to be taken on,” she further stated.

In response, Meredith blamed the situation on a lack of maintenance of the computer systems.

Meanwhile, the councillors also noted the failure of the City Engineer to present his report, while saying that it prevented them from addressing illegal construction at a number of properties in the city.

Five properties were identified: a building located at Lot 50 Cummings Street; a building at Regent and Albert streets; a five-storey building along Sheriff Street; a building along Mandela Avenue; and the Avinash building along Water Street.

Although permission was granted by the Engineer’s Department to have these structures erected, it is alleged that the building code was breached when owners extended and/or reconstructed the structures, and as a result councillors have expressed interest in reviewing the plans.

It was noted that the Eegineer’s report was deferred from the last statutory meeting owing to the absence of the engineer, who was again absent yesterday. “It shows great disrespect for him to be absent to answer the queries we have,” Chase-Green said. She further called for an investigation to be carried out in the Engineer’s Department.

Deputy Town Clerk Sharon Harry-Munroe, sitting in for Town Clerk Yonette Pluck-Cort, assured the councillors that a full investigation will be launched into the Engineer’s absence.