Tue | Sep 19, 2017

Letter of the Day | Three-year fiasco over Manchester property tax

Published:Monday | July 10, 2017 | 7:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

In October 2014, Mrs Colly Varcianna sent an international postal money order in the amount of US$200 to the Manchester Municipal Corporation as payment for her property taxes. By some strange coincidence, in 2016, she asked someone in Jamaica to do a check on the taxes payable when she discovered that the US$200 was yet to be applied.

In her frustrations - both from not understanding the system, having migrated some decades ago, and the many calls placed to the council to locate the funds - she sought my assistance. I asked her to revisit the post office she bought the draft from and ask for the cashed copy, which would confirm that the council had received and processed the funds. This she did and had them emailed to me.

On January 4, I sent an email, with all the supporting documents that were sent to me, to the council. On January 5, I received a response from a Ms Darcia Roache advising that the email was forwarded to David Harris, acting CEO, for his action.

Not hearing from Mr Harris' office, I called the following week and spoke with a Ms Hepburn, who indicated that she was Mr Harris' secretary. And, for ease of reference, I forwarded to her the email - with all the supporting documents - that was sent to the corporation. Ms Hepburn did some legwork - and I must add that she was very professional. After a couple days of back and forth, she confirmed that the funds were located and would be sent over to the Collector of Taxes.

I conveyed the good news to Mrs Varcianna, but that optimism was short-lived. In April, Mrs Varcianna asked someone to visit the Collector of Taxes in Mandeville and request a statement on her account. The statement showed no payment for the period.

I spoke back with Ms Hepburn, who seemed surprised. She asked me to give her a couple days as she wanted to have discussion with one of the senior finance managers.

 

THREE YEARS AND NO PROGRESS

 

On May 1, I called her advising that I would be leaving the island on May 3, for three weeks, and I really needed to provide Mrs Varcianna with an update. I was put on to a Mrs Tracy-Ann Brown, who indicated that while there was evidence that the funds were received by the corporation in 2014, there was no further progress.

Mrs Brown indicated that she would do some further research and send me an email accordingly. No email has since been received, no correspondence sent to Mrs Varcianna, and the US$200, though there is evidence that it was lodged to the corporation's account in December 2014, has still not been applied.

It is almost three years and I really believe that while the corporation deals with its internal inadequacies, Mrs Varcianna should not be made to suffer the non-payment of property taxes for the period under reference, along with the penalty charges that would have accrued, relative to this particular payment/non-payment.

PAT WILLIAMS BIGNALL

wilbig@cwjamaica.com