In move to downsize, cut cost…commences payment of wages, salariesBy Lakhram BhagiratAmidst continued protest over the late payment of wages and salaries, the Municipality of Georgetown has embarked on a workforce audit, individually assessing the viability of its more than 800 staff members. This move comes after a continued call for downsizing from Chairman of the City’s Finance Committee, Oscar Clarke.Mayor Patricia Chase GreenCity Hall currently employs over 800 persons, with its wages and salaries bill amounting to over 68 per cent of its revenue.In relation to this, Mayor Patricia Chase Green said the suggestions for the downsizing have been constant, even though the departmental heads are complaining of being short staffed.She noted that at a recent meeting, the City’s staff structure was presented and it showed serious shortfalls in the execution of their mandate. The Mayor explained that the City Constabulary is currently short of more than 100 persons, while the Engineer’s Department is seeking to fill the top positions.“There is a need to look at every individual so an audit is being done on every individual to see if there is a need for that person. Nobody is going to wake up in 2018 and see that the Mayor and City Council, just because they want to downsize, just send home people. So it had to be done properly and I don’t see it being done before the end of the year or even early 2018 but it’s something we have to look at,” she informed.“As the Heads of Department come with the staff structure and the amount of staff allocated to each section, you would see if there is a need for them. The Constabulary Department is saying that they are short 100 persons and will those vacancies be filled? No, because with the present monies we getting, we can’t fill it… it is a chicken and egg situation and we still have a service to provide to the people and security is a major concern…,” Chase Green added.At an Extraordinary Statutory Meeting on November 14, 2017, Chairman of the Finance Committee Oscar Clarke suggested that the municipality consider downsizing the number of staff members, since salaries account for 68 per cent of the Council’s revenue.Clarke disclosed that at the start of 2017, it was agreed that workers will be paid between the 25th and 27th of every month and that workers will be given a multi-year salary increase from 2016-2018. However, the Council was unable to meet its obligation last month due to lack of funds.In addition to high salaries, Clarke told the Councillors that City Hall has about 260 pensioners and that number is rapidly increasing since every year workers are going into retirement.Chase Green explained that in order for them to be able to pay December salaries, the administration was forced to extend its amnesty deadline until December 31, 2017. The option of amnesty was flouted so that the Council could accumulate monies to pay staff members for the months of October, November and December. The amnesty period began on November 15 and was scheduled to end on December 15, 2017.“Salaries would have commenced yesterday (Tuesday) for all staff and we are paying in stages. Up to stage three have been paid today sometime later this afternoon (Tuesday) releases would be done for stages four, five, six, seven and most likely, we will be able to complete payments by the end of this week and the amnesty has been extended and we are getting monies coming in from the amnesty and also our taxes,” she said in relation to the payment of December salaries.However, the late payment of wages and salaries, over the years, has become a norm for the Mayor and City Councillors of the city of Georgetown, creating quite a spectacle as the workers would usually picket the administration. Just in November, the workers were out on Regent Street protesting for the payment of their wages and salaries.