60% of Lindeners not paying rates and taxes – Mayor
Linden Mayor Waneka Arrindell said that at least 60 per cent of Lindeners was not paying their rates and taxes and several businesses in the community owed millions to the Region 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice) municipality.
Speaking with Guyana Times on Wednesday, Arrindell noted that this was a major issue for the Linden Mayor and Town Council (LM&TC), which she said was working towards the establishment of its municipal court, in an effort to secure outstanding payments.
Arrindell also appealed to members of the community to settle outstanding balances as soon as possible as she highlighted numerous effects this has on the Council.
“One of the major difficulties we’re facing is the fact that there’s still 60 per cent of the residents not paying their rates and taxes. We only have a 40 per cent pay rate right now. And this is since we’ve been here. From 2016 to now. Sixty per cent of the taxes not paid. What we’ve found is that persons in the areas who are not under the municipality are willing to come in and start paying their taxes. But residents who are under the municipality are the ones not coming out to pay,” the Mayor said.
She added that the rates and taxes were inexpensive, as she pointed out that rates for households start from as low as $1000 and $1200 per year. She also reminded residents that from funds garnered, the municipality is expected to carry out maintenance functions such as garbage disposal and every other service that it offers.
“So, we want to encourage the residents to come out and pay their rates and taxes. Of course, also, your rates and taxes payment is going to determine the payment of the salaries for the members of the staff, because we’re not given money by the Government to pay staff. Every municipality has to garner their own funds to pay their staff and at this point … we still can’t meet the minimum wage. There’re some promises we made last year and we still cannot come up with it, because persons are not paying their rates and taxes,” Arrindell continued.
She added that the municipality would have granted amnesty on rates and taxes last month, and during this month defaulting taxpayers were being offered 10 per cent off.
“There are persons who owe us in millions. We have businesses that owe us up to millions. We’re going to attempt too – before this first quarter is over – to have our Municipal Court established. Because once our Municipal Court is established, then we’re going to be able to charge and fine people for the outstanding monies that they owe us. I cannot say why people are not paying, but it is my hope that they would start to pay and understand the importance of paying,” the Mayor stated.
She noted that while there was poor sanitation in the past, the municipality now has four compactor trucks which are functional. As such, she said, it is doing far better in terms of services offered to the community. Arrindell noted, however, that in order to service and maintain the equipment, more staff has to be hired, hence more finance is needed. She encourages residents to pay up as much as they possibly can. The Mayor also noted that there were plans to increase rates and taxes across the country.
“We are in the process, and this should be finished by June of this year – the Government is re-evaluating all lands. Once that evaluation is done, there’s going to be an increase in rates and taxes across the country. Because we’re right now paying at the 1976 rates and taxes, which is not suitable for what is happening now. Hopefully by mid- year, we’ll have those new rates and taxes set and then we’re going to start our improvement – increasing our rates. Of course, we’ll try our best to make sure that the increase is not exorbitant that it affects our residents significantly, but it must be able to at least pan out,” she said.
According to Arrindell, the Council runs on a stable budget and will work to establish what its needs are and will incrementally work on increases.