The newly elected Georgetown Mayor and City Council should be allowed to assess the ongoing payment problems with the city’s two largest garbage disposal contractors and decide if government should be approached for help, Minister of State Joseph Harmon said yesterday
“I think that from today, you would have new management at the City Hall and, therefore, I believe it is not only right that they be given an opportunity to wrap their minds around this problem and if, in their deliberation and their contemplation, there is a requirement for additional help, I would leave that call to be made by the council,” Harmon said during his post-Cabinet press briefing.
As it stands, City Hall owes Puran Brothers and Cevons Waste Management a total of $160 million for almost six months of work. On Monday, the two companies pulled their services and this forced City Hall into a new garbage collection arrangement with five small contractors. However, garbage has been piling up around the city. In similar situations previously, central government had stepped in and paid off the council’s arrears.
Yesterday, Harmon was asked if the government would once again intervene and pay off the debt and whether he was concerned about this reoccurring problem.
In response, he said that it is a city/municipal problem. “I have said here at this forum before, that we tend to allow the municipality to deal with these issues. Last year, because it became such a major concern, a major problem, the government at the request of the city made an intervention and (there) was actually payment made to the operators,” he reminded.
He also acknowledged that like all citizens, the government is concerned about garbage piling up and the consequences which this will have.
“I believe that as a government, we also have to be concerned that this situation is occurring over and over again,” Harmon stressed.
Cevons and Puran Brothers have said their decision to withdraw their services was made only after futile attempts to engage the municipality on the issue of settling its outstanding debts to them.
“In the process, we found City Hall to be decidedly lacking in a sense of urgency. It is as if the administration of City Hall has concluded that it is entirely reasonable to expect us to continue to provide service in the face of its astounding delinquency,” they said in a joint statement.
They noted that in the past, City Hall’s resort to less than professional replacement service providers has led to unwholesome consequences. The companies have called on central government to intervene to avert a potential crisis.