The Georgetown municipality’s battle with garbage seems like a never-ending one and Mayor Patricia Chase Green has indicated that she is disappointed with the work of the new contractors and has called on Town Clerk Royston King to “get it right”.
“I am not satisfied with the way we are dealing with our commercial garbage, while we sent out notice and gave people 12-day notice, I have been receiving calls and complaints that the trucks passing, if the store owners have a box and a barrel, they move the barrel and leave the boxes. Then immediately after, the City Constabulary is charging and bring those persons before the court,” Chase Green said.
“Town Clerk, let us get it right! If we are saying we will collect garbage at 5 pm (17:00h) and then at 5:05 pm (17:05h), we can’t go charging people. We know fully well that the new garbage contractors are not aware of what is to happen. I am disappointed that people have to call me,” the Mayor added.
She made those comments at the Mayor and City Council’s statutory meeting on Monday at City Hall.
The Mayor explained that she was not satisfied with the level of service being delivered to residents in the city. She added that the Constabulary could not be arresting and charging business owners when the municipality was the one to be blamed for the ‘slack-up’.
She further explained that many of the business owners were frequenting her office as well as her telephone to make complaints about the failure of the garbage companies to pick their garbage and the subsequent charges.
“I called the Solid Waste Director and the Town Clerk (informing them that) on many occasions that the trucks as they pass through they collect one drum, if you have three drums, they collect one drum and then tell you that you have to pay for the other two, which is unacceptable. They are only intended to do one pick-up per day through the streets of Georgetown. Town Clerk, that is unacceptable (that they only collect some of the garbage) and you have to call in these contractors and let them know their role,” she said.
On September 1, the M&CC implemented fees for commercial waste collection. Small business operators are required to pay a $5000 per month fee while medium businesses will contend with $8000 per month. Large business operators across Georgetown are required to pay the most significant figure of $12,000 per month for their waste collection.
Solid Waste Director Walter Narine had told the Council that while the originally approved fees for commercial garbage collection were $5000, $10,000 and $15,000, the latter two were reduced to $8000 and $12,000 after consultations.
The M&CC has long been saying that it operates as a cash-strapped body and in many instances, work around the city has had to be halted, since the municipality was unable to pay workers and waste disposal service providers. Councillors heard Monday that salaries could not be paid.
Puran Brothers Disposal and Cevons Waste Management withdrew their services on July 30, 2017, as City Hall’s debts had risen to the multimillion-dollar range. According to the companies, the issue of non-payment has been a longstanding one, with many debts going as far back as 2015. Many Councillors at Monday’s statutory meeting commended themselves for keeping the city clean despite the withdrawal. A Councillor, however, noted reports that a truck (registration number provided) was going around and charging some residents $500 to empty their barrels – a service which currently attracts no additional fees for homeowners.
It was at a meeting with stakeholders in April 2017 that the Mayor informed the Council was cash-strapped; hence, she requested businesses to pay more for commercial waste disposal. Mayor Chase Green had told the businesses that City Hall could not afford to keep up with the weekly amount of $1.8 million only to clear commercial waste.
Town Clerk King has in the past said that even if citizens paid all of their outstanding taxes, the Council would still fall short of enough money to cover everything it has to do. King said the implementation of a new fee was in order because the service of waste disposal was a very expensive one that the Council could not afford at the moment. At that time, Councillor Kuppen had held out that the matter must be carried to a vote.
In July 2016, City Hall imposed a $25,000 container fee on container trucks each time they moved items across the city. After an uproar from the Private Sector, City Hall slashed the fee to $5000 as an interim measure after discussions with the M&CC and the Private Sector Commission.