City ended 2017 with $57M deficit

-less than 2% of capital works completed

The cashed-strapped Georgetown municipality closed 2017 with a deficit of $57 million and completed less than 2% of its 2017 capital works programme.

Data presented in the December, 2017 Treasurer’s Report shows that over the course of 2017, the city earned $2.036 billion in revenue and spent $2.093.

According to the report, the largest source of income remains rates and taxes, which contributed $1.134 billion in revenue, with the largest increase in income coming from the relatively new container fee.

The container fee, which earned council $57 million in 2016 and $183 million in 2017, had actually been projected to earn $360 million. Though bylaws to govern this new fee are still to be passed, the interim fee of $5,000 charged since September, 2016, continues to accrue significant sums for council. The controversial metered parking project, which had been projected to earn $120 million annually, only netted $667,804 after only two months of operation.

Notably, every source of income outside of the container fee recorded a decrease in revenue from 2016. The city collected over $200 million less in rates, $7 million less in market fees and $53 million less in compliance and building fees.

Surprisingly, the report provides no comparison of expenditure between 2016 and 2017 and instead the report notes that in each area council spent less than budgeted. In fact, while the 2017 budget catered for $3.6 billion in expenditure, the actual expenditure was much less at $2.093 billion.

Capital projects, which were budgeted at $609 million, were only realised to the tune of $10 million. Employment costs, which were projected to be more than $1.2 billion, actually cost a little more than $890 million, while maintenance expenses cost a little more than half the budgeted $673 million ($304 million).

Last February, Chairman of the Council’s Finance Committee Oscar Clarke had presented the budget with revenue projected at $2.8 billion and a projected expenditure of $3.6 billion. The budget had included a slew of new revenue measures, including the controversial charges for paid parking, container fees, a 10% increase in property rates and several new fees.

At the time, the paid parking project was the subject of a broad boycott since its January launch and it was suspended in March.

It is now the subject of several court cases, one of which saw the High Court ruling that its bylaws were illegal. Meanwhile, the council has once again renegotiated the terms of the contract with concessionaire Smart City Solutions.

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