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MAYORS SPEAK: 'The
burden of public expectations'
FACES may be new after June 19, but the word from outgoing
mayors is that the problems facing any new council will be
the same as those which have dogged them for years.
some instances these range from insufficient funding to sanitation
and illegal street vending across the island.
Bay Mayor, Owen Atkinson, told of a tenure which had been
both 'interesting and challenging'.
72 years old, he says this has been his first and last term
in office, as he will not seek re-election.
are too many young persons out there who are willing to offer
themselves and are able to do a good job."
he will not be far away from the action as he intends to offer
himself for service elsewhere.
won't be totally out of it anyway as I would still be busy
working in the constituency," he said.
the personal level Mayor Atkinson said that the irritations
of the job had included a general attitude from the public
which saw the council as "responsible for everything"
and being ill-informed of the true role of the council.
expect more than we are able to deliver and I don't think
they are aware that there are distinctions to even some of
the things for which we have responsibility," he said.
to the performance of the council over the period, Mayor Atkinson
explained that while there had been advantages such as increases
in property tax collection, the benefits were minimal.
have been able to increase collection but then grants have
been reduced, so we have really not been able to catch up
or see much improvement in the areas."
he says, there has been success. Street vending he says has
been eliminated altogether, while a thrust to bring the business
of the council to the people has received much support from
advises his successors to push for a closer relationship with
ensure any measure of success the council will need to get
the people involved... talk with them, level with the people."
sore point for the parish he says has been widespread squatting
which, if unchecked, should be a major challenge for any new
St. Ann's Bay, outgoing Mayor Charles Tate saw antiquated
policies and poor service delivery as challenges to any new
main problem for the council has to do with the municipal
laws and the application of them. The council will also need
to look seriously at service delivery for example with regard
to parochial net roads, and building regulations. For example,
there needs to be fewer cases of construction without approved
is another major problem, because that deters from the delivery
of service," he says and agrees with Mayor Atkinson that
the public's poor attitude to civic responsibilities is a
a question of getting people to understand that what we pay
in (in taxes) is comparable to what we want. The truth is
that of the population if 75 per cent were expected to contribute
only 40 per cent are paying.
property taxes, for example is our main source of revenue
to carry out two main functions solid waste and street
lighting. But right now this is seeing some 55 per cent returns,
nowhere near where it is supposed to be. If we receive even
80 per cent we would have been able to satisfy those needs."
mayor, Horace Williams, with close to 17 years of community
service under his belt looks forward to the June 19 election
as he seeks a second term in office.
he says the time has been "very rewarding" Mayor
Williams says Manchester's new council will still have to
grapple with the "question of autonomy".
has to be a defined role for the council," he said, "to
the point where Government is even willing go beyond what
is allotted now, (which is still not enough) and put aside
resources for the council to do its work."
Williams suggested too that until "antiquated" laws
are shed, councils will still be at a disadvantage. The traffic
laws, and laws relating to the workings of pounds in the parish
as well as those regulating the trade of hairdressers and
barbers were two troublesome areas, he said.
affects us in terms of our generation of revenue."