The cash strapped Georgetown Mayor and City Council (M&CC) is going after those businesses which it said are underpaying rates and taxes, since the valuation of their properties have not been updated following renovation works.
Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the Municipality, Debra Lewis, in a statement on Thursday, said that despite the completion of their buildings several years ago – which includes construction of new buildings, extensions to existing ones, and change of use from residential to commercial – several businesses continue to pay the same residential rates to the council.
“The Mayor and City Council has written to the Valuation Department of the Ministry of Finance, seeking its assistance to get a number of corporations and businesses to comply with property rates’ by-laws and regulations, to make their proper contribution to the city of Georgetown,” Lewis stated.
According to the PRO, this move would allow the Council to collect its correct amount of property rates from these businesses.
Lewis pointed out that this action on the part of businesses creates a deficit which, when coupled with the neglect of other property owners to fulfill their civic responsibility, continue to impede and restrict the ability of council to deliver municipal services to local communities and the city as a whole.
Among the services the Municipality is responsible for are the maintenance of 160 miles of roads; maintenance of 800 miles of concrete and earthen drains, including construction and maintenance of hundreds of culverts; maintenance of 12 outfall channels and sluices; maintenance of all parapets, reserves and thoroughfares within council area; maintenance and servicing of all bridges, footpaths and other sidewalks; collection and disposal of all waste generated (350 tons daily); and street lighting.
The City Council is thus urging all property owners to settle their accounts with the City Treasurer’s Department, and support the municipality in its effort to make Georgetown a clean, green, safe and healthy city for all.
The M&CC had last year announced plans to recoup from defaulting taxpayers billions owed in rates and taxes. Recoup plans included taking such persons to court. Additionally, the Council had devised a number of payment plans and negotiation systems to provide a reasonable breakdown of sums which would otherwise be strenuous, especially to low-income earners, all in order to encourage the payment of taxes.
Some of the businesses that the M&CC will be going after in regard to the payment of rates and taxes of undervalued buildings are: The New Building Society Limited, Caricom General Insurance, Full Works Motor Stores, Best Buy Pharmacy, May’s Shopping Centre, Ashley Fashion, Shoppers Paradise, Chetson’s, Oceanic Trading Company, Torginol Paint/Continental Agencies Ltd, US Wireless and Gift, Riaz Computer Centre, Young Photo Studio, Gabriella’s Trading Wholesale and Retail, Guyana Oil Co. Ltd, GBTI, Bounty Supermarket, Full Worth’s Curtain Store, Rong Xin Mao Trading, Yong Quiang, Super Star Trading, Julius Variety Store, R. Bassoo and Sons Ltd, among other businesses.
Notably, the City Council is currently engaged in a court battle with the New Building Society Limited (NBS) over the highly controversial Parking Meter Project which many city businesses and citizens have objected to and have called for its scrapping. NBS took the M&CC to court, challenging the placement of parking meters outside its Avenue of the Republic Office. High Court judge Justice Brassington Reynolds has since ordered respondents in the matter, Town Clerk Royston King and Minister of Communities Ronald Bulkan, to present arguments as to why the Parking Meter Project should not be rescinded.