For 2018, the New Amsterdam Town Council collected $54.3 million in property taxes and $18 million in interest on arrears collected.
According to a Department of Public Information (DPI) report that was published on Thursday, this is the first time in the history of the municipality that the tax collection has surpassed the $50 million mark and it represents a five-fold increase over the amount collected for the year 2017. In addition, it has successfully collected 78 per cent of its budgeted taxes for the year 2018, the DPI release added.
The Town’s Treasurer, Kerriann Edwards, is quoted as saying that the milestone was achieved as a result of the emphasis placed on visiting homes last year to encourage persons to pay their outstanding amounts. She noted, however, that on many occasions, they found that no one was occupying the property, and the lot would be taken over with thick vegetation. Many of those property owners currently reside overseas.
This new approach is in keeping with the municipality’s drive to accumulate money to return the town to its former glory. However, the necessary cooperation from some residents leaves much to be desired, the council explained.
Residents have accused the municipality of not doing enough since increasing property tax by 100 per cent as of January 1st, 2018.
Meanwhile, the DPI report said that the council, in its drive to ensure compliance and thereby increase its revenue collection, will be publicising the names of those residents who have significant amounts outstanding.
Officer-in-Charge of the Town Constabulary, Charles Roberts, added that the council will be visiting persons to encourage compliance. Failure to comply may result in photographs of their property being published along with the amount owed to the council.
“I implore upon you to visit the Treasurer’s Department urgently to avoid the inconvenience as it relates to those persons who would have been delinquent. As it relates to paying their rates and taxes that are owed to the council,” Roberts was quoted as saying.
The municipality is also set to take strong actions this year against persons who engage in illegal parking, illegal vending and littering.
Roberts said the council is encouraging citizens to take pictures or videos of persons found littering. He said if the offenders are found guilty, they will be fined and the photographers will be rewarded 50 per cent of the fine imposed. The fine for individuals found guilty of littering is $10,000, while businesses found guilty of such practices will have to pay $100,000.