‘City Hall is broke’, no budget for 2023


By Sharda Bacchus


The Mayor & City Council of Georgetown (M&CC) is cash-strapped and needs an urgent injection of finances to run the city for the rest of the year.

But with no financial audit done in more than a decade and no budget for this year, bringing in the resources is a “tedious” task for the recently elected Finance Committee.

The Finance Committee is chaired by Lelon Saul of A Partnership for National Unity (APNU). Other members include Tahirih Adams, Troy Garraway, Clayton Hinds and Yvonne Ferguson – all of the APNU – along with Don Singh of the People’s Progressive Party/ Civic (PPP/C).

The Mayor of Georgetown, Alfred Mentore, is also an elected member of the Committee, a move which is deemed “out of protocol.”

In an interview with the News Room on Thursday, Don Singh said the newly elected PPP/C councillors are prioritizing resolving the major issue as part of their move to ensure there is accountability at City Hall.

To do this, Singh said there is a need for cooperation from both Government and Opposition councillors.

“City Hall is broke…They don’t have any money and there is a long tedious process….Constituents will come and say ‘I need this drain clean’ or ‘I need this garbage done’ and you take it to the appropriate officers at City Hall and they will say ‘we shorthanded, we short of staff, we short of money’ and the people’s work just isn’t get done,” Singh told the News Room.

According to Singh, there has been no audit of City Hall finances in over a decade. As such, there are no records of how monies were spent over the years.

The last M&CC budget, which was in excess of $2B, was approved in 2022.

“Your books are not in order for 10 years; we don’t know what exactly is left in the city treasury. On the city register…We need to get that done before we move forward,” Singh said.

He added, “Empty treasury, no record of 10 to 15 years of what is gone, what is on the city register. So we don’t know. Those things perhaps will take some time to fact find but the people’s work still needs to be done.”

According to Singh, the PPP/C councillors of the Committee plan to appeal to the relevant ministries for assistance.

“People pay their taxes expecting their jobs to be done. Where do we start from there?… Maybe, we can ask the Local Government Commission to get involved to get some audits done so we can catch up…First and foremost, what has to be done is the audit…We are in August of 2023 and we don’t have a budget for 2023 for City Hall. I mean it’s just chaos,” Singh noted.

The first statutory meeting of the new Council, whose members were were sworn in July, is slated to be held on August 14.

Singh said he has since proposed that the Finance Committee meet two to three times a week to discuss and possibly come up with ways in which they can deal with the financial issues.

“In 2023, we need to do better…We have promised people…to make their life better…the important thing is that we work together….bridge that divide,” he said.

At the same time, going forward, he said the lack of accountability and transparency needs to be addressed. He suggested that new measures such as online payment of rates and taxes be implemented so records can be easily accessible.

“The finance is super important because, without the money, nothing happens,” Singh told the News Room.

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