I note a letter from Ms Debra Lewis, PRO of the City Council under the headline – `City ratepayers should have paid increase from July 1’ – in SN of Saturday, December 9. I note that my name occurs some ten times in that letter, as the PRO tries to, as she says, “reply to a letter (from me) captioned ‘I had to laugh out loud’ in the KN edition of November 30, 2017.” The PRO says: “it is imperative that we address the issues raised by Mr Cave,” and she proceeds on her merry way.
I had to laugh out loud.
You see, Editor, while the PRO attempts to use a more conciliatory tone than the one she seems to have employed in her letter `It’s easy to criticise’ in respect of Mr Carl Veecock, she seems unaware of certain facts of history.
I am aware, and for many years have been aware, that the rates the City Council collects are inadequate to meet all the City Council’s legitimate and reasonable expenses. Unlike the PRO, however, I do not consider them, as she says, “meager.” I am aware of efforts of former Mayor Mr Hamilton Green and former Interim Chairman Dr James Rose to access additional sources of income, some of which require action to be taken by the Parliament of Guyana. I have attended public meetings at City Hall, at the Pegasus, and at St Stanislaus College. I have attended public meetings for my Ward called by the late Councillor Desmond Moses. Like others, I have criticized and I have made suggestions.
The PRO says: “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 July 1, 2017, and was widely publicized in both the print and electronic media.” For my part, not only was I aware of what Mr Oscar Clarke had said, but also that his committee’s proposal was approved by the City Council. That is why, on two occasions when I was passing City Hall, I stopped in to pay my difference, but payment was refused on each occasion because the Cashier explained that she had not received any instructions, did not know how much more I had to pay, and that, as I had paid up fully in January, the difference I would have had to pay was quite small. The PRO’s confident assertion that I “did not seek to bring (my) record up to date” is therefore quite, quite, quite untrue.
It is instructive that, even though the City Council took the decision on the rate percentage increase since February, the demand notice was delivered to my home in November. Perhaps that time span is what the Council and its Officers consider to be “as soon as practicable after notices of the making of a rate has (sic) been published,” as the PRO quotes from Section 216 (1) of the Municipal and District Council Act Chapter 28:01.
Years ago, I made the point that the Council should increase the rate percentage by a small amount each year to help it garner funds, and not depend on action by the legislature. For years, I have railed against the granting of waiver on interest owed by ratepayers. For years, I have railed against obvious inefficiencies in the running of Georgetown. For years, I have railed against the tendency to wave in ratepayers’ faces their responsibilities under the Municipal and District Council Act Chapter 28:01, without, seemingly, any major acknowledgement that (some) ratepayers have a legitimate expectation as regards some minimum level of efficiency in City Council performance.
When I consider that the PRO seems to have accessed the documentation on my payment to City Hall on January 3, and, presumably, the documentation on the demand notice sent me in November stating a sum far less than the amount I had really paid in January, and she offers no comment on this serious matter in her “reply,” I have to laugh out loud again. Perhaps she feels that she does not need to give any assurance/reassurance in respect of the viewpoint given me by a passing stranger about what the City Council may have done with the money I paid. Perhaps her assertion in her November 29 letter about Mr Carl Veecock: “I am not sure what qualifications this gentleman has” has wider implications than may at first meet the eye. Some of us criticize, but some of us also make constructive suggestions at public meetings held on behalf of the City Council.
Editor, after a considerable amount of cogitation, I have been unable to come to any conclusion as regards whether the City Council and its Officers are among those whom the gods wish to destroy.
George N. Cave.