The Hope Town District Council focused on settling the new budget request, which will be considered for the next budget year 2018/2019 to cover Great Guana Cay, Man-O-War and Elbow Cay, when Parliament meats to vote on the budget.
Chief Councillor Jeremy Sweeting took time at the beginning of the meeting to recognize the passing of Tommy Sands and Elvie Joseph, residents of the district.
A presentation was made to Harold Malone for his years of service to the Hope Town District Council. Mr. Malone is a former Deputy Chief Councillor and served for nine-and-a-half years. Mr. Sweeting noted it was during Mr. Malone’s time that he forwarded the idea of portfolios, and the Council still does so today.
Members of the Council took turns sharing their respect for his service and the relationships they formed over the years.
Mr. Malone said that he didn’t do it by himself, it was a team effort, and added that you don’t have to sit around a table to do things for your community.
During their budget proceedings the council discussed requesting that the stipend for members of at least a Schedule Three District be raised. Schedule Three Districts do not appoint statutory boards to oversee Port, Road Traffic, Town Planning and Hotel Licensing, but deal with it all themselves.
Mr. Sweeting also noted that all other Schedule Three Districts encompass a single cay or island, whereas the Hope Town District comprises three major cays and additional small settlements.
The Council will also seek a budget item for an additional worker to assist with the collection of Real Property Taxes.
They also noted that contracts in their district have not seen an increase in years, particularly in garbage collection, despite growth and additional rises to cost of doing business.
The Council will be seeking a total Capital Budget of $818,435 to address dock and road construction and repairs across the district.
It was noted that something needs to be done now for the North Side Road in Hope Town as it is in terrible shape and cannot wait for the new budget in July.
The construction of a wall of heroes for Hope Town was discussed, as the previous decision to do so had been much delayed. Great Guana Cay erected one in 2006 followed not long after by a wall in Man-O-War in 2007. It was agreed an appropriate site would be identified and a list of potential names made by the next meeting.
The topic of Self Drive Plates was discussed again, as Mr. Sweeting said it is difficult to properly make decisions on SD plates when there is no info on how many plates are allotted to Abaco. He also asked that Road Traffic send someone to inspect rental cart companies to ensure all plates were actually in use. He said additional plates which are unused need to be reclaimed.