The Georgetown City Council on Monday voted to begin moves to the Courts in an effort to get property owners to pay their taxes.
The City Council has failed through several efforts to get the property owners to update their tax payments. The municipality is owed well over $2 billion in taxes by businesses and private property owners.
Mayor Patricia Chase-Green told News Source on Wednesday, that the Council simply cannot go on with having persons refusing to pay their property taxes.
She reminded that between 2015 and 2016, the council offered an amnesty period which saw between 25% and 50% of the interest on the taxes owed being removed, and many companies and persons still did not take advantage of that.
Mayor Chase-Greens said in 2016, the Council went further and removed 100% of the interest owed and while some took advantage, the majority of defaulters did not pay up.
“There are too many business places who have owed for years and have not been paying up and we have exhausted just about everything to get them to pay. The law allows us to move to the Courts and that’s what we will do. We need to recover the money owed”, the Mayor said.
She said under the law, if the property owners after court action, still fail to pay over their taxes, the Council could move to have those properties sold to recover the money owed.
The Council is hoping that the move to the Court might be enough to get the defaulters to pay up.
While the decision to begin moving to the Court, received a majority of votes, Councillor Malcolm Ferreira abstained from the vote and said the City Council should have looked at other avenues and use the court as a last resort.
“Before we head to the courts, have we fully exhausted all means and methods of encouraging citizen’s to pay up? What was the true response to the last amnesty on interest campaign that was extended? We have heard that the Courts generally favour homeowners in cases that actually meet the courts, so should this be passed, we will need to ask ourselves, what support is necessary for the administration to expertly compile, prepare, present argue and convince the presiding officer to render judgement in favour of the city”, he said, during a presentation to the Council before the measure is passed.
The Councillor said he hopes that the moves to the Courts will not be used as a tool, to settle grievances, “be them personal, political or even of a fickle nature.”