Ministry pursuing millions in garbage fees

Millions of dollars in previously owed government fees for trash collection were not accounted for in financial statements that were eventually disclaimed upon review by the auditor general’s office, a report from the former Ministry of District Administration indicates. 

According to the report, which covers the 2012/13 government financial year, money due for the garbage fees was not included, resulting in an $8.2 million difference on the government’s books. 

“A significant portion of the garbage fees receivable balance dates back to 2004/05,” the ministry statements noted. “The ministry continues to pursue these sums, albeit with minimal success.” 

A disclaimer of opinion by auditors, as was given to the former Ministry of District Administration in 2013, indicates that the entity’s financial statements did not contain enough information for a proper audit to be conducted, essentially providing no outside assurance that the financial statements could be relied upon. 

Revelations regarding the government’s unpaid trash fees, dating back a decade, were first revealed by the Cayman Compass in early 2013. 

A report from February 2013 noted that more than two years after the Cayman Islands government stopped requiring the collection of garbage fees from local homeowners, the government admitted that some $1.76 million in unpaid garbage fees was still owed by various ratepayers. 

The $1.76 million was owed in 689 “debts,” according to records obtained by a 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 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. 

In addition to the non-collection of household trash fees since 2010, it was revealed last year that hundreds of businesses and strata-governed condominium complexes did not pay government fees for trash collection in 2014, and may not have paid those fees dating back to 2010, according to an internal audit report. 

“During the January-June 2014 billing period, 289 customers categorized as ‘business’ customer[s] were not billed,” the Internal Audit report, made public through a Freedom of Information request, stated. 

The issue was noted during a follow-up audit by the unit last year, after revelations in 2010 that duplicate bills for trash fees were sent out and unauthorized fee waivers were granted to churches and schools. 

In 2010, the government made changes to the system used to track garbage fees – known as EVMAS – to waive the fees on selected trash service routes. Department of Environmental Health managers said the changes made at the time were related to the government’s decision to stop billing residential homes for trash pickup. The waiver applied only to stand-alone properties, or was intended to do so at the time, internal auditors noted. 

“However, upon our review, there were several service codes [in the EVMAS system] not related to residential units that were also assigned with zero fees,” the 2014 audit stated. “This includes hotels, offices, small businesses and rental containers.” 

Trash fee collection 

A private consultant review of the government, completed last year, recommended the outsourcing of waste collection and landfill services to the private sector. However, in order to do that, it was proposed that waste disposal fees be reinstated for all system users. 

“Current waste collection fee arrangements in the Cayman Islands are ineffective with most residents and many commercial entities not paying for services,” the consultant’s report by accounting firm Ernst & Young stated. 

To realize the estimated $2 million cost savings it identified, the EY consultant report makes it clear that the initiative would require the enforced collection of waste disposal fees. “In order to successfully outsource waste collection, it is a necessary preceding step to implement a collection fee structure and system.” 

In addition to fees for waste collection, the report states, charges should be introduced for those bringing waste to the landfill site “for both private garbage collection companies and private citizens.” 

Ministry pursuing millions in garbage fees
In addition to fees for waste collection, a report by consultant EY states, charges should be introduced for those bringing waste to the landfill site ‘for both private garbage collection companies and private citizens.’ – PHOTO: CHRIS COURT


  1. I am wondering how the government will be able to collect garbage fees from poor people when half of them have to be depending on government for food and shelter.
    Don’t worry someone know exactly how to work this out, without infringing on the poor; but as the saying goes "Popular friends in diverse places"

  2. How can so many people owe so much? People not being responsible just breaking it off in the system, what a day when the garbage don’t get pickup. That will be when you see all those that did not pay stand up and be heard. So sad.

  3. I think that politics has gotten too big in the Cayman Islands, for the government to effectively run the programs that are in place. Today we have to look at politicians from around the world, they need big money to pay for their campaign, then the politicians start campaigning and the voters gets promises, and when they get elected the big donors gets their needs fulfilled, and the voters might get a small handout to keep you voting for them. I think that this money that is owed to the government for garbage fees, should be held in protest to say when the George town dump is properly fixed, we will help pay to get it fixed properly. If we don’t stand up against government in this issue we would always have George town dump staring us in the face.

  4. Here’s a thought for on going collections! Attach a fair fee based on the number on occupants at a residence and add to the water ill most people pay each month. Do not make this some astronimical figure that no one can afford. This should cover 90-95% of the islands’ residences. For places of business, make a nominal fee for the size of the business or type of business and collect that amount through the water companies or through CUC. Government may have to pay a small handling fee to each of these entities for their services but that surely would not amount to the arrears currently trying to be collected from the general public, who may or may not still be in the islands.
    The other question is, why does Government put all of these fees in place with no method of collection for the fees?
    The same goes for unlicensed vehicles and other unpaid fees that go uncollected for years.

  5. Send one polite registered letter, following government all-party support, nicely demanding full payment of all outstanding arrears, together with interest, within 30 days, failing which 4 things will occur, without further correspondence:
    1. Amounts will be added to utility bills;
    2. And Driving permits;
    3. And car permits; and
    4. Passport validity.
    No payment? No light, water, AC, driving, car permit, car insurance or travel. Every bill will be paid.
    Write off those belonging to those who have left Cayman.