SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - Repairs have begun on the former Island Receiver’s Building on Pond Island. Contractors started gutting the building on Monday this week, following the inspection of the facility by Minister of Finance Perry Geerlings.
Geerlings pushed for the urgent repairs in a bid to alleviate the long lines at the Government Administration Building.
Geerlings visited the old building on Friday July 20 and spoke to the Head of Facility Services for the Government Rignald “Rick” Martina and Head of New Projects Kurt Ruan about the urgent need to repair the building. He said in a press statement issued Thursday, "I also wanted to see for myself the state of the building."
The former Island Receiver’s Office was devastated by hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017. The remodelling was first initiated by Geerlings’ predecessor Michael Ferrier.
The building presently houses two staff of the Island Receiver’s office who will be relocated and remains the pick-up location for vehicle license plates. Geerlings is also focused on creating a safe environment in which employees can provide efficient service to the public.
According to Geerlings, pushing for the work to start immediately was “the right thing to do,” because the staff at the Receiver’s office was presently working in a state of discomfort.
Over the long-term the government plans to construct a modern facility that would house the Tax Department and the Island Receiver’s office. The intention is to create a one-stop service centre in which the public can access all services related to the Island Receiver’s Office and the Tax Department.
Another pressing issue is the improvement of the IT System for the tax and Receiver’s office. Regarding the IT System Geerlings said that simplifying specific processes and providing online access will increase the service and compliance level.
He said this move to improve IT services was also one of the reasons for having the Government’s IT Department fall under the responsibility of the Ministry of Finance.
Once the IT system for the Tax Department and Reciever’s Office is updated it will enable better integration between departmental software modules, as well as improved customer self-service.
Geerlings: “There is much work to be done before the building can be ready for use but based on the need to relocate the staff, I have discussed with the Facility Services Manager and the Head of New Projects how we can solve this problem quickly.”
Minister Geerlings wants to take a proactive approach to solving the issue of long lines and complicated procedures for accessing specific services. He said the idea is to make the lives of both the staff and the public easier by putting a rush on repairing the old Island Receiver’s Building.
Once it has been repaired, it will be used to temporarily house the staff of the Island Receiver’s Office and the cashiers who are presently working out of limited space in the Government Administration Building.
The building will also become the new temporary home of Postal Services St. Maarten. The remodeling of the building will take an estimated four weeks.