KINGSTON –– More than 60 per cent of property owners in the Corporate Area — Kingston and St Andrew — do not pay property taxes, which go towards payments for garbage collection and street lighting in the city.
Yesterday, Kingston Mayor Angela Brown Burke expressed dissatisfaction with the property tax compliance rate, telling a meeting of the council that it was unacceptable.
Brown Burke told the council meeting that, even though the Kingston and St Andrew Corporation (KSAC) had collected close to $1 billion or 60 per cent of its $1.5-billion annual target, the compliance rate of the various communities in the city was between two to 39 per cent.
She said that the KSAC hoped to improve the compliance rate by compiling and sending to members of parliament and councillors a listing of property tax compliance for the different communities.
Property tax collection, she said, would be an agenda item at a community meetings being planned by the KSAC.
“I will be collaborating with councillors and MPs and contacting community-based organizations, as a two to 39 per cent compliance rate cannot be considered to be satisfactory,” the mayor told the meeting.
Brown Burke disclosed that property owners in New Kingston had the highest property tax compliance rate of 39 per cent in the city. She, however, could not recall which community had a two per cent compliance rate, saying the list was still being compiled.
Meanwhile, Town Clerk Robert Hill told the Jamaica Observer that the council’s Parish Discretionary Committee met last month and reviewed 62 applications from elderly and infirm persons for property tax relief. He said that visits were made to the applicants’ homes and that, resulting from the KSAC’s investigations, an estimated 60 per cent of them would get “some amount of relief”. The KSAC, he added, would be writing to the successful applicants in another week or so.
In the meantime, the city’s mayor said the KSAC held discussions with public health officials last week and discussed the chikungunya outbreak.
She urged the public to destroy mosquito-breeding sites, cover water containers, and not to self-diagnose.
“We do not want to create public panic, but public education is necessary. Do not decide that you have chikungunya; let the professionals do the diagnosis,” the mayor urged, pointing out that there were other illnesses with similar symptoms to chikungunya.