New Amsterdam town council blasted over 100% hike in rates and taxes

- Region Six Chair calls for minister’s intervention

The Chairman of Region Six, David Armogan on Wednesday blasted the New Amsterdam Mayor and Town Council over the implementation of a 100% increase in rates and taxes within the township.

However, Mayor Winifred Haywood said that the matter had been discussed twice by the council. She added that a meeting with the business community on the increase will be held by the council next week.

Armogan, during a press briefing at his office in the Regional Democratic Council’s compound, called on the Minister of Communities, Ronald Bulkan to immediately intervene in an effort to bring some sort of relief to the residents and the business community, since the increase was implemented from the first of January.

The Regional Chair stated that “…if you want to increase, you have to look at it based on the economic circumstances of the people who have to pay these rates and taxes,” while he contended that no consultation was done with either the residents or the business community before the implementation of the increase.

According to Armogan, the increase is nothing but “ridiculous”, while positing that businesses within the township have already seen a 30 percent decrease in sales since the closure of the nearby Rose Hall Estate.

“Now you asking people in the business community to now double up, 100 percent increase on the taxes, they are already paying high taxes”, the chairman said

He said an increase in the taxes would ultimately mean an increase in the price of products being sold within the township, which will in turn affect the entire region.  “Businesses are doing bad presently and to be taxing them more now, when you use to pay $100,000 now you have to pay $200,000 to the town council”, the chairman explained.

Armogan said a hundred percent increase at one time in any country is beyond comprehension, as increases come gradually over a period of time. He stated that presently the council is “collecting less than 50 percent (of rates and taxes) within the town”.

According to Armogan, if a council is receiving less than 50 percent in rates and taxes and then chooses to increase the amount to 100 percent, “then you are penalizing people who are already paying and allowing those who are not paying to go free.”

He said, a better initiative by the council would have been to go after the persons who have not been paying their rates and taxes. “This 100 percent is ill conceived and without conscience, and it is a rate that is going to bring further hardship to the people of this town.”

Armogan also lambasted the council’s service. He charged: “Most people are paying a private garbage collector to pick up their garbage, and the drainage situation hasn’t really improved, and if you see some improvements now is because of a small excavator that the Region has given to the New Amsterdam Town Council. The road work is being done by the Ministry of Public Infrastructure; the development of the park that you are seeing is done by the Ministry of Communities, I don’t know what they will be doing with these 100 percent increase because we are not seeing any improvements on these services that are being offered by the New Amsterdam Town Council”.

The Mayor of New Amsterdam, Haywood when contacted on Wednesday evening and asked whether any consultation was done with residents and the business community before the implementation of the increase, said that the increase had been discussed twice at council level in the presence of the media.

When further asked how the residents and business community had responded to the increase, she explained that a meeting will be held with the business community sometime next Wednesday. However, she stressed that the increase had been implemented since January 1 this year.

Additionally, the regional chairman disclosed at the press briefing, that the New Amsterdam Town Council wrote to the region insisting that if the Regional Democratic Council wishes to conduct any work within the township they must submit a proposal to the Mayor and Town Council. “For example if we want to extend a school we have to submit a proposal then we have to pay them all the fees that goes with the submission of those documents and then they will reply to us in due course”, Armogan disclosed.

Armogan said that because of this new idea of the council, the Region will not be able to carry out many important and necessary works within the township in a timely manner, or even at all. “We got to through all these paperwork, by time that the year come to an end and the budget is gone. We want people to understand that they are putting in now additional work on the Region.”

The chairman further noted that the Region has written to the town council on the matter, however, the council is yet to respond.

Mayor Haywood when questioned about the new initiative explained that it was done in the past but it had been stopped somewhere along the line. According to her, the idea is to have the Region include the council in the loop of works being carried out in the town.

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