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Council Heads Examine Critical Reform Issues at 1-Day Retreat

The decision-making heads of the island’s fourteen (14) Local Authorities (Parish Councils, KSAC, and Portmore Municipality) gathered at the Jamaica Conference on Wednesday November 18, 2009 for a one-day retreat designed to focus on revisiting Council’s role in the context of Local Government Reform.
In his opening statement to the Mayors and Secretary/Managers, Minister with responsibility   for Local Government, Robert Montague, challenged Councils to improve their revenue sources, be forward thinking in planning for the parish as well as improve the general efficiency of Councils through relevant training models.
He reminded the gathering that at the heart of the Council’s revenue base is the planning department which is a potential ‘cash cow’. This area he says needs to receive greater attention.
On the issue of accountability, the Minister reminded Councils that financial allocations will be tied to timely submission of reports and performance evaluation reports. Turning to the testy issue of the One Stop Shop, the Minister allayed fears that Councils would be losing their current portfolio, and instead, advised that they would be responsible for approvals for sub-divisions of nine (9) lots and under as well as approve sub-divisions of 3000 square feet and under.
The all-day session which formed part of the Local Government activities for November, also addressed issues of developing Digital Town Halls and Mayors and Councillors taking greater care at improving the image of council.
The way forward was the third segment of the retreat that applied practical efforts at action planning with specific targeting and timelines.
Mayors and Secretary/Managers are mandated to return to their respective councils to discuss, plan and implement their action plans in the context of the local government reform programme.

Other topics discussed included, status of local government reform, reflecting reform in council operations, communications and Councils’ collaboration with the Single Road Authority.