The Local Government Act requires that all of the chief councillors of an island with two or more districts work together for “the common good of their island.” Four of Abaco’s chief councillors met on March 25, 2015, to discuss common issues faced by the island’s seven local government districts. Two deputy chief councillors also attended.
Although The Act states that they are to cooperate, they have no budget and no authority to accomplish much.
A common issue was inadequate funding. Under their collective name, they will write their Minister for Local Government asking that the budget allocations for the coming fiscal year be increased. This would permit necessary services to keep pace with Abaco’s growing population and development. For the most part budgets have either remained static or been reduced even though central government recognizes Abaco’s dynamic growth.
They are also writing Minister Leslie Miller, who has ministerial responsibility for Bahamas Electricity Corporation. The chief councillors are supporting and asking that he implement his recent statement that switching BEC’s primary fuel to Bunker C will reduce electric bills by 30 per cent.
Various operational issues related to their local government responsibilities were discussed with those with many years of local government experience giving suggestions to those recently elected to local government.
The councillors want to meet quarterly, and they expect to organize a meeting again in June. It is difficult for all of them to come together due to Abaco’s diverse settlements.
Chief councillors attending were Jeremy Sweeting of the Hope Town District, Jacqueline Estevez and Deputy Chief Councillor Vashti Albury, both of South Abaco, Delson Stuart of Moores Island, George Cornish and Deputy Chief Councillor Gilbert Davis, both of Central Abaco.
In other countries our chief councillors would be called a mayor.