Cash strapped: City Council taking 5 businesses to court for $1B in outstanding rates

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…says $48M a month needed for collection & disposal of garbage

Georgetown Town Clerk Royston KingThe Mayor and City Council (M&CC) says that it has initiated legal proceedings against five businesses who collectively owe $1B  in outstanding property rates inclusive of interest to the Council.

In a released statement, Georgetown Town Clerk Royston King, outlined Continental Agency, Ashmins Trading Company, Georgetown Fisherman Corporations, Milk Plant, and Vernan Garraway (Shoppers Paradise) as the five businesses who owe outstanding property rates.

King also outlined the various sections under the the Municipal District and Councils Act, Chapter 28:01, that grants the Council the authority to initiate legal proceedings.

He said that in addition to not paying rates a number of corporations and companies have been undervaluing their properties.

According to King, the collection and disposal of garbage in the city is becoming increasingly expensive. He posited that the cost to collect and dispose of garbage is more forty eight million dollars ($48M) a month.

The Georgetown Town Clerk, said that the Council needs all of its monies to provide vital municipal services to citizens in local communities. “These include: garbage collection and disposal, construction and maintenance of roads, drains, street lights, markets, parks and open green spaces, cemeteries, public health and environmental services, enforcement of the city’s by-laws.”

See M&CC’s full statement below:

Pursuant to sections 219 (1),220,221 and 222 of the Municipal District and Councils Act, Chapter 28:01 the Council has initiated legal proceedings for recovering of outstanding property rates against the following properties:

  • Continental Agency                                 12 West Ruimveldt Industrial Site
  • Ashmins Trading Company                       43-47 Werk-en-Rust
  • Georgetown Fisherman Corporations       Meadow Brook/Houston
  • Milk Plant                                                1 Cowan Street Kingston
  • Vernan Garraway (Shoppers Paradise)     104 Regent Street, Lacytown

The aforementioned properties together owe the Council in excess of $1B in outstanding rates inclusive of interest. According to the Act:

 219Where a period of three months has elapsed after default under section 217 has occurred, the clerk of the council shall as soon as practicable thereafter institute proceedings for the recovery of the rates.

  1.   Rates shall be recoverable from the person liable for the payment thereof-

(a) as a civil debt, irrespective of the amount, under the Summary Jurisdiction (Petty Debt) Act;

(b) by distraint under section 221 on movable property of the person liable, whether such movable property is situated on the property in respect of which the rates are due of elsewhere;

(c) by parate execution under section 222, where the property in respect of which the rates are due is immovable property.

  1. (1) Where movable property is liable to distraint for rates, the clerk of the council shall serve on the person liable for the payment thereof a notice which shall set out the amount of rates remaining unpaid and shall state that if such amount is not paid within fourteen days, proceeding by way of distraint will be commenced.

(2) If payment is not made within fourteen days after the notice is served under subsection (1), the clerk of the council shall make application to the magistrate of the magisterial district in which the offices of the council are situate for a warrant of distress, and the magistrate, upon the production of a copy of the notice together with proof of service, shall grant a warrant of distress under and by virtue of which the moveable property may be levied on and sold for the amount of the rates together with costs.

(3) Where notwithstanding the provisions of this Act, any moveable property levied on and sold under this section is the property of a person not being the person who is liable for the payment of the rates, the owner of the movable property shall be entitles to recover from the council the full value of the property so distrained, with costs.

(4) All warranty of distress issued under this section shall be in the form set out in the Seventh Schedule and shall be executed in the same manner as warrants of distress issued by a magistrate under the Summary Jurisdiction (Petty Debt) Act, and the fees for the process shall be the same as would apply to proceedings under that Act.

222.(1) Where rates are due in respect of any property, and the remedy of distress is not available against the person liable for the payment of such rates, or where it has been used and has proved insufficient, the clerk of the Council shall institute proceedings by way of parate execution.”

      In addition, a number of corporations and companies have been undervaluing their properties; they have been paying less than the required amounts for those properties situate within the city of Georgetown. Some corporations continue to pay residential rates on properties while operating massive commercial activities using those properties of which council is concerned.

The city council is contemplating ways of addressing this increasingly worrying practice of some businesses as a matter of urgency. Council needs all of its monies to provide vital municipal services to citizens in local communities. These include: garbage collection and disposal, construction and maintenance of roads, drains, street lights, markets, parks and open green spaces, cemeteries, public health and environmental services, enforcement of the city’s by-laws.

In order for council to provide all these services which are necessary to secure the integrity and general environment of the city of Georgetown. The one that is particularly important to us at this point in time in the context to good environmental management and governance is the collection and disposal of garbage collection. The cost to provide this service is more than forty eight million dollars ($48M) a month.

The collection and disposal of garbage in the city is becoming increasingly expensive because of a number of reasons including changing demographics, climate change and global warming, change of consumption, consumerism, changes in the type of garbage generated by local commercial activities, in the particular situation where individuals are using more foods and beverages that are imported with excessive wrapping and purchasing materials some of which are non bio-degradable.

The council is appealing to all property owners to settle their accounts with the council. Those who are experiencing financial difficulties can feel free to come in and talk with the trained staff at the City Treasurer’s Department. The Mayor and City Council remains committed to delivering to all citizens a city that is safe, healthy and prosperous.

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