Anna Regina’s outstanding rates and taxes could be collected with the application of commonsense and energy

Dear Editor,

According to Town Clerk Ms Diane Critchlow, “Anna Regina Town Council is likely to collect less than half of the $86 million projected taxes for this year and she believes that setting up a municipal court is among the solutions to get defaulters to pay” (SN, July 27).

Editor, there is no magic formula or blueprint for achieving the projected $86 million outstanding rates and taxes. Success will be earned by the application of energy and commonsense on the part of the Town Clerk to solve the numerous problems which inevitably confront the municipality. For progress to be made in collecting these outstanding taxes the ‘desk attitude’ of most of the clerks in the office will certainly have to change.

During my tenure, the office clerks were sent out to do house to house collection of the rates and taxes; the objective was to make certain all taxpayers paid up their dues. While achieving this aim is a challenging task, I am confident it can happen, given the full support of the workers. And success will not come easily. Legislation (28:01) provides for a reasonable annual schedule for the budgeting of the Town Council.

Good financial management can address property tax collection delinquencies and many other serious problems in the municipality. The new garbage truck which was donated by CIDA is either idle or inefficiently utilized, and is lying idle in the council’s compound, while the collection of garbage and providing other services to the township is being contracted out to Puran Brothers, who in turn sub-contract it out to Naipaul Brothers – representing a loss of revenue for the council.

The council backhoe which was purchased for $15 million in 1996, malfunctioned and has not operated for the past 5 years because of a fuel pump and inadequate maintenance. As a consequence the township is flooded when it rains. The council has for the past decades been in  in debt to goods and service providers  and is financially not in a position to even pay its workers’ salaries on time let alone increased wages and salaries for years.

A separate analysis would have to be undertaken to justify a municipal court. The existence of such a court, however, would need new bylaws. Currently fines levied in the Magistrate’s court for infractions against Anna Regina Township go to the national government.

Many of the grosser defects of the municipality can be corrected; there is much formal democracy, but little practical democracy at the local government level.

 

Yours faithfully,
Mohamed Khan
Former Deputy Mayor

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