– Canadian firm to complete valuations by next year endThe valuation of properties throughout Guyana, being undertaken with assistance from a Canadian firm at a cost of over $300 million, is expected to last until the end of next year. With it, will come, the inevitable hike in property rates.The initiative was supposed to review existing property rate structures, to raise more money at the regional level. According to Communities Minister Ronald Bulkan, work on the $330 million contract will conclude at the end of 2019.“One of the major handicaps the councils are faced with is the lack of financial resources. It is a fact that one of the principal revenue tools is that from rates for properties within their jurisdiction. It has not been an effective tool to be used by councils.”“Central Government has awarded a contract to the tune of approximately $330 million to engage a Canadian company named the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation of Ontario to provide the technical support to the Government valuation office.”Besides the valuations and revaluations, Bulkan noted that the project would also produce an inventory of properties.“That exercise is expected to last between 12 to 18 months and it should be completed sometime by the end of next year. That information will be provided to all of the Local Government organs and they will have at their disposal accurate real time data that can assist them in making informed decisions.”“Central Government is not going to dictate to any organ what level of taxation should be applied or rates. That is a determination that will be made individually by each of our councils. So we are committed to working with our councils to ensure their financial sustainability,” Bulkan said, hailing this as an opportunity for councils to be less dependent on Central Government.The Municipal Property Assessment Corporation does property evaluations for the state of Ontario, Canada, and other jurisdictions. Its work spans Canada and overseas.It was only last year that City Hall announced property rates would go up by 10 per cent, meant to provide relief for a cash-strapped municipality. It was reported some time back that City Hall was owed $2 billion in property taxes.When workers went on strike after their deductions for National Insurance Scheme (NIS) contributions, PAYE and union dues were taken from their earnings but were not remitted to the relevant agencies, City Hall’s cash strapped condition was on display.Town Clerk Royston King told the Guyana Labour Union (GLU) that the Georgetown Mayor and City Council (M&CC) is unable to pay its workers in lump sum the money it owes them for retroactive payments on wages and salaries and increases given to the workers.This disclosure was made at a meeting held with the GLU to discuss the workers’ welfare one day after scores of City Hall workers had taken to the streets to protest the non-payment of their retroactive payments.Over the years, City Hall has been attracting attention for its inability to pay its workers. The Mayor has been recorded in the media as deeming the Municipality “bankrupt”; and in the past, Central Government has had to intervene with financing to provide a bailout.