City council to hold special meeting on parking meter project on Sept 7

Mayor Patricia Chase-Green yesterday announced that a special council meeting for discussions on the city’s suspended metered parking project will be held on September 7.

She made the announcement during a statutory meeting yesterday.

At an extraordinary statutory meeting on August 17, the council voted to defer a decision on the future of the metered parking project following a presentation of a report on the deal. The report was presented by Team Legacy Councillor Malcolm Ferreira, who chaired a negotiating committee tasked with conducting a review and recommending a way forward.

Councillors also voted to make the committee’s report available to the public to guide the way forward.

Deputy Town Clerk Sharon Harry yesterday informed the council that no new opinions or recommendations were submitted. The report was made available for scrutiny until last Friday. The Mayor had said she wanted every citizen in the city to have a look at the report and make further submissions, which would be considered at the upcoming meeting.

Yesterday, the Mayor urged councillors to read the report and be ready to make an input in the discussion at the scheduled meeting.

The negotiating committee’s report recommends five options for the council, including continuing with the project with concessionaire Smart City Solutions (SCS), albeit with a renegotiated contract, or alternatively discontinuing the project by rescinding the contract and leaving the city without metered parking. Another option is for the council to request a further suspension of the implementation of the project, pending the outcome of several ongoing court challenges, after which it may use the court ruling as a legal guide to inform any further action.

Following the suspension of the metered parking bylaws in March, the seven-member committee, led by Ferreira, had been mandated to review the contract, consult with all stakeholders and recommend possible solutions to any impasse that may arise from the implementation of the project.

As part of a renegotiation, the committee has said that SCS must provide all documents requested, “including those of a financial nature (this is the only way to know the true Initial Capital Expenditure, that is necessary to protect and ensure that the citizens and the Mayor and City Council of Georgetown are getting the best deal) as a means of fostering transparency and accountability.”

SCS was approached for documents on its financials but was unwilling to provide the committee with any documents and was only ready to present information if the committee members were ready to sign a non-disclosure form. Ferreira said they refused and the documents were never presented.

A true reflection of SCS’ investment in the project, which has been called into question by the committee’s accountant, would be needed if the council were to consider revoking the contract since it would then be liable to reimburse the company for its investment.

Issues of concern that were highlighted by members of the public are the legality of the contract, including its duration, the transparency of the process, the lack of due diligence, tax concessions, and the monopoly on parking in the city and locations of meters.

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