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A hotline is to be installed for persons to call the St. Catherine Parish Council on issues of concern, newly appointed Secretary Manager of the Council, Christopher Powell, has disclosed.
Mr. Powell says that the hotline will be manned by a dedicated person and responses to concerns will be given within 10 days.
“The move is to have citizens engage with the Council on concerns, first and foremost, while arming the Council, firsthand, with critical information to serve the people better,” he said.
Installation of the line, he added, marks new efforts by the Council to address public concerns, as the Local Government Reform process moves ahead.
Mr. Powell was speaking at a Local Government Reform forum at Arians Restaurant, Twickenham Park, on Tuesday (March 24). The meeting was organised by the St. Catherine Parish Council, the Social Development Commission (SDC), the St Catherine Parish Development Committee and the Jamaica Information Service (JIS).
One of the main challenges facing Parish Councils, Mr. Powell said, was the collection of fees to maintain the infrastructure of the parishes.
“There is very low compliance with Property Tax in the rural areas. Only 44 per cent of the owners of the 950,000 registered parcels of land in Jamaica are paying their property taxes,” he explained. In St. Catherine, only 3.8 per cent of property owners are paying, he said.
“This means that four persons are carrying the other six who do not pay, when the property taxes are needed to fund critical services such as garbage collection and street lights,” he lamented.
Mr. Powell urged Councillors to encourage their constituents to pay up their Property Taxes. He also urged residents to make use of the toll free line to voice their concerns, in order that the Council may serve them better, when it is installed.
He announced that new programmes were on stream for the parish, including a European Union banana support project for road work and the building of a basic school.
The main objective of the Local Government Reform public meetings is to facilitate citizens taking an active role in the development and governance of their communities.

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