The Ministry of Home Affairs is inviting City of Hamilton residents, property-owners and any other interested parties to a town hall meeting on Wednesday August 22, from 6pm until 7:30pm at The New Testament Church of God: Heritage Worship Centre to discuss the most appropriate way to strengthen and modernise municipal governance for the benefit of Bermuda.
A spokesperson said: “This particular town hall meeting will take the form of roundtable discussions and will focus on the Corporation of Hamilton specifically and is part of a wider public consultation.
“The public may recall that a town hall meeting was held in May 2018 to discuss the Corporation of St George.
“There will be another meeting for businesses located in the City of Hamilton on Thursday August 23 from 12:30pm until 2pm at The New Testament Church of God: Heritage Worship Centre.
“At the end of the consultation period, a policy document will be made available for review and comment by the general public, prior to the Government making a decision on the optimal governance model for municipalities in Bermuda,” she added.
“The main question being posed is, ‘What should the relationship between the Corporations and the Government look like?’
“In March of this year, the Minister of Home Affairs Walton Brown tabled a Bill entitled: “Municipalities Amendment Act 2018”.
“This Bill sought to amend the Municipalities Act 1923 to allow public officers to attend meetings of the Corporations; to give directions and take stewardship or temporary control of a Corporation in certain circumstances believed to be in the best interests of Bermuda; and for the next ordinary municipal election to be held in 2019, not 2018.
“This Bill essentially deferred ordinary municipal elections for a year until May 2019 while Government undertakes consultations with the Corporations of Hamilton and St. George, and the residents and ratepayers in each municipality.”
Minister Brown added: “The municipalities have served and continue to serve an important purpose – managing the cities of Hamilton and St. George. However, there are inconsistencies in how each is structured.
“One Corporation is focused mainly on business; one mainly on residential. One has a fairly healthy revenue stream; one is reliant on the largess of Government.
“Both, however, have issues with failing infrastructure. Both are looking for ways to stimulate their economies in order to raise more revenue.
“Municipalities overseas provide social services, including housing, to their residents. Municipalities in Bermuda do not deliver social services; and the need for social services within the municipalities is growing.
“The Government believes that the two levels of Government (national and municipal) can no longer operate in economic or decision-making silos,” he said.
“I would encourage residents with ideas, questions or concerns to attend this town hall meeting and help us select the ideal structure of these two institutions. We must have proper input before making a decision.”
Members of the public can give feedback on this issue by emailing email@example.com