The primary and overriding mandate of the reformed Local Authority will be to function as the local government of the parish/municipal area over which it has jurisdiction. This entails having general responsibility for enhancing civic order; ensuring good governance and efficient public management; and spearheading, promoting and facilitating orderly, balanced and sustainable development within that jurisdiction. The effective discharge of this mandate will be manifested by citizens being the beneficiaries of high quality services, an administration that is responsive to their needs and preferences and the best quality of life that is attainable within the resources that are available and the circumstances that exist.
Town Councils would be established in circumstances where there is a large town or district in a parish and the Local Authority, at the request of the Town/District, recognizes and establishes same as a Town Council.
The Local Authority would designate the Town Council as a sub-committee of the Council, comprising Councillors from Electoral Divisions that fall within the defined designated Area. Consequently, it would derive funds through the Parish Council from taxes. Nonetheless, this would not prevent the Town Council to seek funding for projects/programs which they determine to be of benefit to the town and/ or corresponding villages/districts or divisions.
The objective is to enable better management of the affairs of that town/district and its surrounding communities. This approach can facilitate greater participation of citizens and communities in planning and executing programmes and projects. It also supports one of the fundamental tenets of Local Government Reform, that of providing citizens and communities with greater scope to participate in the management of local affairs.
Review of the Portmore Municipality Model
The Municipality of Portmore was established through the passing of the Municipalities Act in 2003. The Portmore Municipality therefore represented a deliberate strategy to structure Local Governance arrangements in a manner that increased citizens’ participation in an environment that reflected characteristics amenable to this model of self-management.
A commitment was made to review the performance of the Portmore Municipality within a five (5) year period, recognising its experimental nature. On March 5 2010, the Government of Jamaica, under the auspices of the then Department of Local Government, Office of the Prime Minister (DLG), contracted the Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of Social and Economic Studies (SALISES) to review the Portmore Municipality Experience against the background of municipality status being accorded to Portmore.
The National Association of Parish Development Committees (NAPDC) has been established at the national level and Parish Development Committees (PDCs) at the local level. The adoption by local Authorities of new participatory governance structures, featuring PDCs, Development Area Committees (DACs) and Community Development Committees (CDCs), in a model that facilitates the empowerment of communities and places emphasis on partnership among all stakeholders in the local governance process is crucial. In addition, many Local Authorities have adopted innovations to facilitate participation by citizens in managing the affairs of the Parish. These include co-opting members of PDCs and civil society on Committees of the Councils; broadcasting proceedings of Council meetings on local cable television; and adopting a participatory approach to the budget process, by presenting draft budgets to citizens and inviting their inputs prior to its approval.