More than two years after the Cayman Islands government stopped requiring the collection of garbage fees from local homeowners, the administration has admitted that some $1.76 million in unpaid garbage fees is still owed by various ratepayers.
The $1.76 million is owed in 689 “debts”, according to records obtained by a Caymanian Compass reader under the Freedom of Information Law, 2007. The outstanding fees work out to an average of more than $2,500 per debt.
Garbage fees, as of 2010, are no longer collected for individual homes. However, previous charges owed are still payable to the Cayman Islands government. Also, strata corporations that manage condominium and apartments owned by individuals are still required to pay for trash fees for dumpster maintenance. Commercial properties are also charged for their dumpsters.
The revelation about the existence of nearly 700 unpaid debts by customers comes at a time when residential trash collections have been reduced to one time per week because of a lack of available trucks to collect the rubbish.
At the moment, there are three working garbage collection trucks in Grand Cayman, Premier Juliana O’Connor-Connolly said earlier this month. During normal service, there are between six and eight trash trucks on the road.
The Department of Environmental Health is now in “very dire circumstances”, according to the premier, who has instructed her staff to use funds usually set aside to offset depreciation of vehicles to buy two new collection trucks.
She said normal twice-a-week garbage collection services would resume “subject to the trucks remaining functional”.
Residents of George Town’s Windsor Park neighbourhood, who complained to the Caymanian Compass about trash collection, said Saturday that they hadn’t seen a garbage truck since Thursday, 7 February. Residents noted trash collection seemed to be occurring once every nine or 10 days.
The outstanding garbage fees are a relatively small part of the $16.5 million owed to government, according to records obtained through FOI.
Managed debts brought forward from the end of November 2012 for the month of December 2012 included a massive $12 million in overseas medical payments due.
Those are costs paid by government for the treatment of insured individuals in overseas medical institutions.
In addition, $1.3 million was owed to government as of December for “travel tax”.
Those travel taxes were owed in 28 separate debts, according to the records.
Those three debts alone made up about $15 million of the $16.5 million owed to government as of 30 November.
Other larger amounts owed included $242,824.65 in bounced cheques owed to the executive branch of government.
Another nearly $273,000 was owed for a handful of Cayman Islands Development Bank loans for hurricane recovery purposes.
Another $160,000 was owed in four separate debts for an unspecified “agriculture loan” and another $58,775.69 was owed in one debt for “telephone charges”, again unspecified.
Government records also revealed that nearly $83,000 in the outstanding debts had been paid off in December, all of that amount to previously bounced cheques.
The month before, nearly $95,000 was paid off from the various debts; more than half of it for overseas medical debts and the rest again for bounced cheques.