City Hall’s financial woes…as staff cuts are proposedThe average monthly revenue of City Hall is between $78 and 80 million, while its monthly wage bill is $112 million.According to Town Clerk Royston King, who provided the above figures, the City is running on a “shoestring budget” and it is time for the Mayor and City Councillors (M&CC) to seriously consider revising the staffing structure.During City Hall’s statutory meeting on Monday, King said: “It is becoming increasingly challenging for us to sustain current staff members and at the same time provide certain basic municipal services. I am recommending that the Council look at an approaches that will allow us to properly and carefully rationalise current staff.”He noted that in addition to the municipality having an exorbitant wage bill, it is battling to settle its accounts with various agencies, such as the Guyana Power and Light Inc (GPL).He said the administration is behind on payments to the National Insurance Scheme, the Guyana Revenue Authority, and employees Credit Union, and is currently working with those agencies to determine a way forward.He said the proposal at this time is for the M&CC to pay workers’ salaries while holding back on remitting the statutory deductions, but he explained that it is not the ideal step to take.“We are managing this council on a shoestring budget, and at the end of the day, we are out of funds. We need monies to manage the council. I am appealing to you, Your Worship, and the Council to look at new revenue earning avenues, since we are unable to (undertake) revaluation of properties so that we can have the kind of revenue we need to manage the city. We really need revenue to manage this city; I cannot over emphasize this,” King said.He related that while the M&CC has to consider social implications, economic considerations ought to be looked at. King said he had had to meet with President of the Guyana Labour Workers Union, Carvil Duncan, after Duncan had threatened industrial action over the administration’s inability to reach an agreement with the union.“If people understand our circumstances and support us in this time of difficulty…. We have a situation where even the very people we are moving to support and help, we have to consider our economic circumstances. The fact is, if you are having a budget of $78-80 million and your wages bill is $112 million, then right away you see the only sensible approach is to downsize and re-engineer, if we are unable to generate more money,” he explained.“Some of the very staff are not sympathetic to our situation, to the point where when we are unable to pay on time, there are strikes and protests and we have to face all kinds of snide remarks. We have to have a very sensible approach; we are in April, and we are finding it difficult,” he added.King said the municipality should immediately begin to put systems in place to address the situation.Meanwhile, Mayor Patricia Chase-Green has said she is not in agreement with putting people on the breadline. She contends that the issue needs to be looked at holistically.“I know it is an issue we have to look at. I don’t want to take ‘a top of the head’ decision. It has to be carefully thought out, and that is going to take some time. Let us thread cautiously. We know the constraints, but please appeal to the people to pay their taxes,” she said.At an Extraordinary Statutory Meeting on November 14 last, Chairman of the Finance Committee, Oscar Clarke, had suggested that the municipality consider downsizing the staff number.