Minister of State Joseph Harmon yesterday assured that garbage contractors Puran Brothers Disposal Inc. and Cevons Waste Management Inc. would be paid the more than $300 million owed to them by Georgetown Mayor and City Council (M&CC) for waste disposal services.
Informing that both companies have made proposals for the settlement of the outstanding sums, Harmon told a post-Cabinet press conference that a settlement of the city’s debt is currently engaging the attention of Ministry of Communities and it would then be referred to Cabinet for deliberation. “We believe that once people have done work, they should be paid and so I wanna give that assurance to the service providers that government is not unmindful of the fact that they provided service and that they have not been paid,” he said.
The monies owed to the companies date back to 2015.
At a special statutory meeting on Thursday, 20 city councillors unanimously voted in
favour of requesting $475,635,245 million from Central Government to settle the city’s debt to both Puran Brothers, Cevons and another company, Dartmouth Skips Rental.
The vote was taken on a motion moved by Mayor Patricia Chase-Green and seconded by the Chairman of the council’s Finance Committee, Oscar Clarke.
According to the motion, in anticipation of the Country’s Golden Jubilee Celebrations, which were observed last year, the council had embarked on a massive clean-up campaign in all the local communities within the city. However, it said it exhausted all of its funds and could not honour its financial obligations to the contractors, resulting in a total debt of $475,635,245 million.
Town Clerk Royston King subsequently said the council’s request would be taken to the Ministry of Communities yesterday for deliberation. It is not the first time that the cash-strapped council has sought the intervention of Central Government to settle its debts to the two companies.
In July, the city said it viewed plans by the two companies to withdraw their services over the arrears as a termination of their respective contracts, based on the fact that there was no provision in their respective agreements for the suspension of services. The companies had previously suspended their services over the city’s failure to honour its financial obligations.
However, since then, neither of the two companies has been paid.
Additionally, although the council contracted three smaller waste disposal companies to assist with garbage collection, there continue to be complaints by residents of delayed collection. This newspaper observed overflowing bins in sections of Kitty and Campbellville earlier this week.
Harmon said yesterday that the government recognises that there is a problem and is seeking to address it. “It makes no sense for us to just operate as if there is no problem and so the Minister of Communities has been contacted and we are looking at it and seeing how best we can bring relief,” he noted.
Harmon pointed out that apart from the sums owed, lots of employees were laid off by the two companies as a result of the situation. “So, we are looking at that very carefully to be able to bring some relief to the two companies,” he added.
King, in a statement on August 9, had cited several reasons for the M&CC’s inability to honour its obligations to the companies, including the fact that the council has not conducted any new valuation of properties in over 20 years.