Staff shortage affecting City Hall’s operations; Absence of Local Govt. Commission hampers hiring

Staff shortage affecting City Hall’s operations; Absence of Local Govt. Commission hampers hiring

By Svetlana Marshall

Faced with a severe staff shortage, the Georgetown Mayor and City Council backed a decision by City Mayor Alfred Mentore to write President Irfaan Ali on the urgent need to have the Local Government Commission reconstituted to facilitate the hiring of much needed staff. 

In the absence of that Commission, the Council, in a majority decision today, agreed to seek legal advice on whether it has the power to hire workers in the absence of the Local Government Commission. 

The urgent need for staff to be hired surfaced again at today’s statutory meeting of the Georgetown Mayor and City Council, after it was reported that the municipality lacked supervisory personnel to man the various pump stations and sluices in the city that are under the control of the Municipality. 

At its last statutory meeting, the Council had recommended that the Administration proceed with the hiring of personnel to supervise the operations of the city’s pump stations and sluices, but the City Human Resources Manager, Sherry Jerrick today reminded the Council that the staff cannot be hired or appointed in the absence of the Local Government Commission. 

“We have a bigger issue, and I do not believe that this council is addressing it. And though it may be coming up from time to time in different facets but not in its entirety. The issue sir, is that we do not have a Local Government Commission, and as a result of that, appointments, whether it is acting appointments or substantive appointments, those things are all held in abeyance, they are on hold, and nothing really is happening. And I think at the level of the council, you really need to pursue the higher authorities to ensure that, that Commission is set up,” Jerrick told the Council. 

She explained that the Municipality needs the approval of the Local Government to not only advertise vacancies but also to hire personnel. 

The City Mayor, while questioning what happens if the Commission is never reconstituted, urged the Human Resources Manager to proceed with the hiring of staff. 

“So, if the Local Government Commission is never reconstituted, what happens? The whole country shuts down, all the NDCs shut down, all them town shut down? I said to you before, the law provides for us to…that we could go ahead, do what we have to do, and send it to the Commission for notification, for ratification. The council does not stop, it is always in perpetual succession, and regardless of the Local Government Commission, which is an external body to the Council, we still have to do our work. So, we are saying here in this instant, that we want to treat with this issue,” Mayor Mentore said. 

File Photo: Georgetown’s City Hall

He, however, was cautioned by Jerrick, that the work of the Municipality must be guided by the laws governing the operations of Municipalities and NDCs in the country. She urged the Council to seek legal advice on the matter. 

“Sir, with all due respect to you, the office you hold, and that of this council, I wish to openly say that I do not share your view on section 18. My perspective of it, my interpretation of it, is completely different, and notwithstanding that, it is not just the Local Government Commission, it is the Local Government Commission and I am referring here, simply, to its legal authority. And I would humbly suggest that the council seeks legal advice on the way forward, before it implements or suggests anything that is different from what is currently standing as law,” Jerrick urged. 

Notwithstanding his initial position, Mayor Mentore said he would be guided by the advice of the Human Resources Manager. It was against that background that the Council agreed to seek legal advice on the matter. 

The life of the current Local Government Commission expired in April, and there has been no move by the Government as yet to reconstitute the Commission.

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