City council seeking restart of paid parking, higher container fees to boost earnings

A Georgetown Parking Meter (File photo)

As the municipality continues to suffer from a dearth of funds, the Mayor and City Council (M&CC) of Georgetown has ramped up efforts to maximise its earning potential by forwarding the newly-approved metered parking by-laws to Minister Ronald Bulkan for his signature and resuscitating tripartite discussions on container fees.

At Monday’s statutory council meeting, Town Clerk Royston King announced that the by-laws, which were approved on April 4th, have been forwarded to the minister for his consideration and signature.

The by-laws, which were approved by majority vote, have been on public display since April 5th. The public was invited to offer comment and these comments have been forwarded with the by-laws to the minister. “I have received the by-laws and all public feedback,” Bulkan subsequently confirmed to Stabroek News. He, however, added that he did not feel good seeing the regulations on his desk again, especially since only 13 of 30 elected city councillors voted in favour of its contents.

For Bulkan, those 13 votes do not reflect “a vote of confidence” but he is prepared to take the by-laws to Cabinet for discussion since it was that forum that suspended the previous bylaws and directed that they be reviewed. The metered parking project has remained in limbo since the March, 2017 suspension of the previous by-laws by central government.

Meanwhile, the council has agreed to meet with representatives from the Private Sector Commission and the Ministry of Communities today to discuss by-laws for the unloading of containers within the city.

This container fee, which was itself a controversial measure, was set at $5,000 per container on an interim basis in August, 2016 after staunch opposition from the business community to the initial sum of $25,000.

It went on to earn the city $57 million in 2016 and $183 million in 2017 though it had actually been projected to earn $360 million. Further, for the first four months of 2018, the fee has contributed $37 million to the $845 million in total revenue earned by the M&CC.  There are, however, no by-laws to govern this fee and the tripartite committee set up to negotiate the by-laws had not met since 2016. The committee comprised the M&CC, the private sector and the Ministry of Communities.

According to Mayor Patricia Chase-Green, this failure was through no fault of the council, which is pleased to finally be moving forward. 

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