Town Clerk, Treasurer still performing duties despite leave motion

Acting Town Clerk Carol Sooba and City Treasurer Ron Ron McCalmon continue to perform their duties despite the passage of a recent City Council motion to send them on administrative leave.

Further attempts have been made to make the decision taken by the council on Monday last, more effective.

After a failed attempt to blockade Sooba’s office, the council, through Mayor Hamilton Green, has written the bank where the council’s accounts are held requesting a change of its signatory.

The letter, seen by Stabroek News, cites sections of the laws which demonstrate that the council’s accounts are those of the council, a democratically-elected body and challenges the bank to require the Minister of Local Government to show which section of the law confers upon him the authority to discard the council’s decision.

According to Green, Minister of Local Government Norman Whittaker had written the bank essentially nullifying the Council’s request. But Green said that if the bank does not fulfil the request of the Council, then legal recourse will be sought. A source also told Stabroek News that since the Council is the holder of the bank accounts, then the Council has the authority to close them in favour of another bank. The source signalled that this may be the option pursued by the Council if the bank refuses to act on its request.

Whittaker, who spoke to Stabroek News last evening, said that the Chief Justice has ruled that Sooba is the de facto Town Clerk and until the determination of the matter, which has since been appealed, it remains so. He questioned, “Why are they doing this?” adding, “We have went down this road before and they are being foolish.”

Confirming that he had written the relevant bank, Whittaker said, “We are an oversight ministry and the bank has always relied on us as much as their lawyers to make decisions relevant to the council and all the Neighbourhood Democratic Councils.” Regarding assertions that the council can manage its own accounts, he added, “The regulations clearly state that the council cannot make those determinations” and promised to gather the specific citations for Stabroek News at a later time.

The motion against Sooba and Ron McCalmon was passed after she waived $27 million in rates and taxes for the building that houses the Universal Church of God on Charlotte and Wellington streets, Georgetown, after Whittaker ordered that it be granted. The minister has since been asked to show upon what authority he instructed that the waiver be granted.

 

Last Friday, the Council, through its lawyers, wrote Whittaker requiring him to cite the legislation which confers upon him the authority to waive taxes and gave him six days to respond. Whittaker, commenting on the letter, said, “I have referred the letter the Attorney General and that is all I can say about the matter.”

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