In the case of garbage collection, 289 “business” customers in Cayman were not billed for trash pick-up from January to June 2014, and may not have been paying those fees dating back to 2010, according to an Internal Audit Unit report.
Auditors have been documenting errors and inaccuracies in trash billing over the past five years, ever since changes were made to the billing system when the government decided to stop charging residential homes for trash pick-up.
The government’s inability to charge and collect fees for garbage collection bodes ominously for any attempts to find a solution (“onsite” or other) for the environmental disaster at the George Town Landfill.
Last year’s EY report estimated that the government could save $2 million per year if it outsourced waste collection and landfill services to the private sector, with the stipulation that everybody in Cayman start paying for the privilege of disposing of their garbage. “In order to successfully outsource waste collection, it is a necessary preceding step to implement a collection fee structure and system,” according to the report.
If the government does go ahead with creating such a collection fee structure and system, we hope they don’t reference the dog-eared page from the playbook of our airport officials, who somehow manage to coordinate the liftoffs and landings of hundreds of thousands of passengers per year, but who haven’t yet figured out how to charge people efficiently for using the parking lot.
Like with garbage collection, the problems with the airport’s “Automated Parking System” have been known for years. Back in 2006, the Compass reported that the parking system (then newly installed) was “trying the patience” of airport users. Last year, in the midst of a rash of customer complaints, the Cayman Islands Airports Authority said it would institute a “short-term” solution to the parking problems and would have a new parking management system in place by early 2015.
That, of course, didn’t happen. Now airport officials say they hope the new parking system will be in place before Grand Cayman’s tourism season heats up in December. (We’ll see if those hopes ever materialize.)
Now, garbage collection and airport parking may seem like trivial topics.
They might be if they were isolated incidents. However, these examples form part of a pattern where Cayman’s public sector is unable to discharge fundamental duties in an adequate fashion. No matter how many tens or hundreds of millions of dollars taxpayers provide to our government for major capital projects, unless our officials are held accountable for fulfilling their basic obligations, Cayman’s promising future may well be like a crystal palace built on increasingly shifting sands.