After months of deliberation among city officials, Council’s Finance Committee chair, Oscar Clarke, read out what was a deficit budget as the year’s $3.6Billion expenditure exceeds an expected revenue collection of $2.8Billion.
This is not the first such deficit budget since sharp deficits were recorded for 2006, 2010, 2011, and 2015.
This year’s budget will see a few measures implemented to increase revenue. Among those are the contentious parking meter, which protesters are expected to gather outside the City Hall at midday to oppose.
Container fees, implemented from August 2016, racked up some $53M thus far, and is expected to take in three times that amount this year.
Other measures include a 10 percent across-the-board increase for property taxes. Clarke, during his presentation, told the packed City Council chamber that updates to that system were not made since 1998.
He said properties would have to reevaluated using the Chief Valuation Officer, and private valuators to arrive at a new figure. After these assessments, Clarke said demand notices would be dispatched to collect outstanding amounts.
He made no bones about the use of judicial processes to recoup monies owed.
He said too that property owners should recognise that rates paid in 1998 would not apply to 2017. The council will also be examining residential properties used for commercial purposes.
Market vendors could also expect an increase in their fees. Despite a fair collection reported for 2016, Clarke said council believes more could be collected.
This will be supported by a computerisation of the marker fees system as well as greater inter-agency collaboration to ensure vendors and stallholders maintain their obligation to Council.
New fees were announced for barber shops and salons, effective February 1, under the Public Health Act.