City councillors voted in favour of a 33% pay increase for themselves and an 8% increase for other officers in the Mayor and City Council (M&CC) during the council’s statutory meeting yesterday.
By a show of hands, 13 councillors voted in favour of the workers’ increase while nine indicated that they were in favour of the 33% increase, raising councillors’ monthly salary from $45,000 to $60,000.
City Treasurer, Andrew Meredith, had announced that council had approved the 33% increase, but this was strongly contradicted by GGG Councillor Patricia Chase-Green who emphasized that such an impression should not be given. She explained that proposals were made for both councillors and workers to be granted an increase but this had not yet been approved.
PNC Councillor, Eon Andrews, subsequent to the meeting, indicated that this issue will have to be discussed with the Personnel and Training Committee before a decision is made. If an 8% increase is granted, it will cost the M&CC an additional $3.1 million per month.
Mayor Hamilton Green enquired whether an increase would not cause the M&CC to further malfunction but this question went unanswered by Meredith, who only pointed to the reason for the city’s financial predicament.
“Managing this city from a financial position is not a walk in the park,” Meredith said. “Every quarter we supposed to collect taxes but it doesn’t happen.”
Meanwhile, expressing concern, PPP Councillor Victor Sobers kept asking, “What are we going to do? Force people to pay? What are we going to pay workers with? We gonna keep promising people?”
He later declared to the forum that anyone caught and found to have not paid their taxes should be placed before the court, adding that this would be the only solution to the council’s dilemma.
Also discussed was the issue of workers’ salaries for the month of December and it was revealed that although it is certain that the council will not experience any difficulty in this regard, a bonus could not be promised as of now.
Hector Stoute of the GGG recalled the finance chairman making reference to the raising of taxes and noted that whatever decision is taken by the council will eventually be subjected to the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development and Minister Ganga Persaud himself.
“Before we waste our time and energy in this budget, a team should meet with the minister and other relevant persons,” Stoute suggested, adding that he is in favour of what the council wants for 2012.
“A team should be fully aware of what the council wants and should point out the needs of the council to the minister,” he reiterated. “I don’t think we can afford another year of putting energy into a budget and at a stroke of a pen, it is said you can’t do A or you can’t do B and we back to square one,” he pointed out, further stating that the it is either the council corrects the situation or it will be considered a waste of time otherwise.
Among the topics discussed was the issue of three garbage trucks which are reportedly not in working condition. “If these three trucks were functioning then complaints would not have existed,” Mayor Green opined.
He questioned the reason why the council’s fleet of vehicles has not been up-kept, indicating that he has not yet done an analysis of the matter.
This urged Councillor Kamla Devi-Ross to announce that the mechanical workshop operated by the M&CC is of no use since vehicles would usually breakdown and it would “take years to fix” them.
She further suggested that the Ministry of Public Works “take it over” given that the council’s money is still being spent on the contracting of vehicles.
This was strongly opposed by Chase-Green who stressed that once she remains on the council, the ministry will not be taking over anything.
“I got a difficulty with the Ministry of Works taking over because like at the end of the day the ministry will take over everything,” she stated.