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PG in Financial Distress Print E-mail
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Written by Administrator   
Thursday, 21 August 2014 00:00

In June the Ministry of Local Government had announced that a financial controller would have been appointed to try to sort out the financial distress that the Punta Gorda Town council finds itself in. Since the announcement there have been adverts put out for the position to be filled but so far there has been no actual appointment. And the longer it takes for the appointment to be made, the deeper the council falls into financial distress.

We are reliably informed that there is absolutely no accounting system put in place at the council to manage the financial affairs there. The finance section of the town is being run by a clerk and a cashier, that’s it!

The situation is so dire that there are no financials available for the town. It has been since April of this year that these were to have been presented but so far there is nothing. Meanwhile the monthly subvention is being consumed by debts. Under the guise of funding a municipal development project in the town, the mayor got a loan from the Toledo Teacher’s Credit Union which was not approved by the ministry of local government. That now is gobbling up 3 thousand out of the 23 thousand dollar monthly subvention from central government. An additional 2 thousand dollars is also being taken out to pay other outstanding bills which include payments which need to be made to Social Security.  Compounding matters is that the mayor has a personal loan with the very same credit union as well and that too is taken out before the subvention makes it into the council’s coffers. By the time the finances arrive there are all manner of creditors to pay and no money to pay with.

The wages and emoluments of the town, we are reliably informed, is in the region of over 50 thousand dollars a month and those cannot even begin to be covered. Employees including those who collect garbage are not being paid, some receive half their wages bi-weekly. To make matters worse, there are reports that persons who are not even employed with the council are getting paid.

Then there is the situation where trucks that are to be used to collect garbage have been run into the ground. Even diesel is not available to do the rounds with some areas of the town not seeing garbage collection for anywhere between 3 and 4 months.

 It’s a dire situation and one that needs immediate attention. With no controller in place it is a wonder that the doors of the council even remain open. The Mayor Anthony Fuentes simply put, has not the capacity to run the town board and people have no confidence in him to the point that residents have begun even to refuse to pay taxes.

It is truly the darkest of days for the municipality of Punta Gorda. The only recourse people have now is to wait for the upcoming municipal elections on March 4, 2015 when the UDP will hopefully still be able to rescue the situation. missing, Anthony Fuentes)