City ratepayers should have paid increase from July 1

Dear Editor,

I wish to reply to a letter captioned ‘I had to laugh out loud’ by George N Cave published in the KN edition of November 30, 2017. We at the Council would like to thank Mr Cave and other ratepayers, who continue to honour their obligations to the city. Indeed, the civic stewardship demonstrated by Mr Cave and other ratepayers is worthy of commendation.

However, it is imperative that we address the issues raised by Mr Cave. Our records show that Mr Cave paid his general rates on January 3, 2017; this means that his rates for the year 2017 would not have attracted interest because he paid before the end of the first quarter.

Citizens would recall, in our Budget presentation held on February 3, 2017, the Finance Chairman, Mr Oscar Clarke announced a 10% increase in general rates across the board. This increase came into effect from the July 1, 2017, and was widely publicized in both the print and electronic media.

Therefore, from July 1, 2017 it was expected that all property owners would pay the 10% increase. Mr Cave’s 10% increase amounted to $534.00 (five hundred and thirty-four dollars), but because he did not seek to bring his record up to date,  on the July1, 2017, the $534.00  accrued an interest of $34 (thirty-four dollars). This situation is not peculiar to Mr Cave but to all property owners within the rating district of Georgetown.

As is customary the Treasurer’s Department commenced issuing demand notices to remind rate payers of the increase. This was alluded to by Mr Cave in the second paragraph of his letter. A demand notice is a legitimate document used to inform and urge ratepayers to pay their rates to the Council. Section 216 (1) of the Municipal and District Council Act Chapter 28:01 states that as soon as practicable after notices of the making of a rate has been published, the amount of rates payable in respect of any property shall be demanded from the owner of such a property on the day on which the rating period commences.

We want to advise property owners that whatever amount in rates they have outstanding, these should be paid in a timely manner, whether $34 dollars or $3,400, since outstanding rates would always accrue interest, regardless of the amount.

It is a fact that many ratepayers who have large sums of money outstanding did not commence owing large sums. But because they did not honour their obligation in a timely manner, the demand attracted interest. Therefore, it is the interest accrued that would often pose serious difficulties for many ratepayers.

Further, we are cognizant that some ratepayers who owe rates have genuine financial challenges, although there are those who are simply recalcitrant. Hence, for this purpose the Council would be strongly proposing an amendment to the Municipal and District Councils Act, so that the Act would allow the Council to address the issue of errant ratepayers with alacrity.  The truth is the rates paid by some property owners are meagre when compared to the value of other goods and services; this was faithfully highlighted by Mr Cave in his missive. It is for this very reason the previous mayors and administrators consistently appealed for the valuation of properties.

Once again, thanks to Mr Cave for highlighting the meagre rates that the Council receives.

Yours faithfully,

Debra Lewis

Public Relations Officer

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