Charging port for mayor lands council CEO in problems

THE Integrity Commission has referred a report to the Attorney General's Department and the Ministry of Finance for action to be taken against the chief executive officer of the St Ann Municipal Corporation for breaches of government guidelines regarding the installation of a car-charging facility at the corporation.

In the report, tabled in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, director of investigations for the commission Kevon Stephenson asked the financial secretary to decide on a reasonable sum to be recovered from the CEO for the electricity consumed for the charging of the vehicle belonging to former Mayor Michael Belnavis, for whom the charging port was installed.

The commission says the request by Belnavis to have the port installed was “wholly inappropriate and an abuse of his office”.

“There is sufficient evidence to conclude that Mr Rovel Morris, by his authorisation of the installation and subsequent payment for the referenced facility, for the personal use of Mr Michael Belnavis, was in breach of the Public Bodies Management Act,” the director of investigations stated.

Stephenson concluded that the $78,000 plus car-charging facility was installed for Belnavis's personal use, and not for both his vehicle and the Ocho Rios clamping unit, as indicated in a memorandum from Belnavis to Morris, dated March 22, 2019.

“The director of investigation's conclusion is premised upon the observation that, as at the date on which the memorandum was issued, consideration for the said clamping vehicle had not yet been made by corporation,” the report said.

The charging station was installed by R O Walters and Associates during the week of November 12, 2019 at the cost of a little over $78,226 to the municipal corporation, and connected to its power supply.

According to Stephenson, there is evidence that electricity charges to the corporation increased in April and May 2020, compared to two months prior to the installation of the port.

— Alphea Sumner

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