The Central Abaco District Council held its first working meeting since the Local Government election on July 17, 2014. It was held in the government complex with all nine members attending. The members had met initially after the local government election to elect their officers. This Schedule II Council represents the district with the largest population and most buoyant economy in The Bahamas. (Freeport’s Schedule I Council may represent a larger community than Central Abaco, but it is a hybrid Council operated in conjunction with the Port Authority.)
The members were dismayed to find that their budget request submitted in the spring had been severely cut. The Council had requested $1.4 million. But the House of Assembly cut it down to slightly more that $1 million, a shortfall of approximately $400,000. After much discussion, it was agreed that the three towns, Murphy Town, Dundas Town and Marsh Harbour including Spring City, would get their requested funds, but Council, the parent body, will make do with about $1,000 a month.
This $1,000 is all that remains after paying salaries and commitments for contracts.
Coping with incidental expenses will be difficult. These include gas and repairs to lawn mowers, occasional janitorial supplies, unexpected repairs to school toilets, pumping overflowing septic tanks at government facilities, making repairs due to storms, paying for transportation to government-required seminars and more.
This first working meeting is common to Abaco’s seven districts. It is the councils’ first view of their budgets for the coming fiscal year funded by Nassau. The three District II Councils on Abaco mainland, North, Central and South, must share their funds with the local townships within their respective districts. Additionally, appointments are made to the various statutory boards, Town Planning, Port, Hotel Licensing and Road Traffic.
After the three councils allocate funding to the town committees, these committees will in turn meet and issue their contracts for garbage collecting, road cleaning and other maintenance items.
Abaco has four District III councils: Grand Cay, Moore’s Island, Green Turtle Cay and Hope Town. These councils will also meet and see their respective budgets for the first time. They may get the same funds as last year, more if they are fortunate but frequently less, causing frustrations on what services are to be cut.