City Hall asked to pay legal fees racked up by former Town Clerk
The already cash-strapped Georgetown Mayor and City Council (M&CC) is now being asked to pay legal fees racked up by former Town Clerk Royston Clerk, who was fired earlier this year over gross misconduct at the local organ body.
Attorney Maxwell Edwards is making the claim for consultancy services he provided to King at a rate of $250,000 monthly. This agreement between the now fired Town Clerk and the lawyer was brought to light by the current Town Clerk, Sharon Harry-Munroe, at a statutory meeting on Wednesday.
She informed the Mayor and Councillors that Edwards is making claims for consultancy services provided to City Hall based on an agreement he had with King. The attorney reminded the Council of the monies owed to him in a recent correspondence.
Edwards had represented King during a 2018 Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into the operations of City Council.
After the probe, conducted by retired Justice Cecil Kennard, it was found that King was guilty of gross misconduct, and was later fired from the Council in January 2019.
One of the 31 recommendations from the CoI report was that criminal charges be laid against King. If he was found guilty of several offences, a request was made for law enforcement agencies and the Auditor General to continue with the probe.
Prior to his dismissal, King was sent on administrative leave on September 21, 2018 to facilitate the inquiry.
The CoI report concluded that King leased lands to Quick Shipping Incorporated at Lombard Street, which are owned by the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL). Throughout that time, the company argued, payments of $625,000 were made on three occasions but there were only receipts at the Council for two disbursements.
King appeared before the one-man Commission after being subpoenaed and positioned that he was “unaware” or couldn’t “recall” most of the incidents.
Moreover, the management of the Giftland Mall had also informed that King had a special arrangement between the City Hall and the enterprise, whereby he would waive taxes.
MCG Investments Inc Consultant Ray Hugh represented the owner of the Mall, Roy Beepat, and exposed that a meeting was convened between the duo, whereby it was agreed that all rates and taxes, including penalties and interests would be waived completely for the years 2015 and 2016.
Giftland Mall would only be required to pay a sum of $11,467,500 after the interests and penalties would have been waived. This was after a letter was issued, stating that the Mall owed $44,255,183 to the municipality.
King reportedly issued a letter sometime after, stating that the agreement ‘no longer stood’ because of the lapse of time and ‘certain circumstances’.
The Town Clerk admitted that he did attend the meeting, but only at the behest of the Finance Sub-Committee who thought of it as the best way of obtaining whatever sum was owed. King also refuted claims about the waiving of outstanding rates and taxes.
Testimony to the CoI pointed that then Mayor Patricia Chase-Green and the Town Clerk were not working collectively to meet the needs of the city. This was shared by CoI Chairman, Justice Kennard, who told the LGC and media operatives that neglect has been one of the key traits shared by senior officials.
“I’m convinced that the Town Clerk and the Mayor are not working in the best interest of the city…To sum it all, most of the woes of the City Council has been due to neglect and mismanagement by the top officers of the Council,” he posited.
Justice Kennard, in his report, had stated too that the former Town Clerk was guilty of gross misconduct, abuse of office, and misappropriation of funds. He also stated that King performed the duties of Treasurer and other officers of the Council, which were not his designated duties.
In light of these findings, King appeared before the Local Government Commission (LGC) to answer to the findings of the report and was also requested to present dialogue on other matters. However, his refusal to discuss the accusations which were brought against him triggered a decision on the part of the Commission to dismiss him with immediate effect.