I refer to the headline in your newspaper on Tuesday, ‘Councillors favour 33% pay hike; 8% for workers.‘
Prior to Monday’s Statutory Meeting I made it abundantly clear that it would be inappropriate for council to pay a disproportionate increase to councillors and workers. It is true that there are only thirty councillors involved, and in real terms it is not a large sum. Nevertheless, my concern was the wider principle of equity.
The situation at City Hall remains the same over the years. There has been the failure to get the government to allow us to broaden our revenue base, and also the frustration related to the council maximizing its revenue-collecting potential. This is the situation: we create a bad public image when we fail to pay contractors to whom we owe millions of dollars and when we cannot function effectively, because we have insufficient funds to purchase basic things such as tools, fuel, paper and some days, even water to drink.
At the Statutory Meeting, the administration failed to provide an answer to the straightforward question as to whether an increase, highly desirable as it is, would result in a further deterioration of services to the citizens of Georgetown. I have no doubt that given the increases granted to public servants, that city council workers at all levels expect, and indeed deserve the increases, but as I pointed out at the meeting, ex nihilo nilhil fit (nothing produces nothing) – (an old Latin maxim).
It is my hope that the new Minister of Local Government will do the decent and proper thing with the support of the President to engage councillors, the staff and the two unions in meaningful discussions, in order to break this distressing gridlock that is of concern to citizens, who are conscious of the wider picture that has created conditions in our capital which are unsatisfactory, but certainly avoidable if the powers that be regard the city as important.
People can no longer be fooled by imperial handouts and micro-management, but desire their duly elected officials to be allowed to deliver, and to create conditions to release the creative energies of all concerned, in particular our youth, who have already demonstrated their willingness to be proactive in their calls for justice and progress.