Scott: Many Government buildings have ‘reached the end of their life cycle’
With 780 government-owned buildings to maintain, Government Minister of Estates and Information Services Michael Scott disclosed last night that government is faced with the ongoing discovery of mould, now that most government buildings are approaching 30-years-old.
Estates Minister Michael Scott told members of the House of Assembly last night that because many facilities have received only basic reactive maintenance and no planned or programmed maintenance, government now has a portfolio of buildings in dire need of major refurbishment.
“The overall physical plant and/or major systems of many of the buildings,” said Mr Scott, “have reached the end of their life cycle.”
As a result he said whether these buildings should be refurbished or even demolished will be assessed through asset management plans.
A total of $25.5 million budget has been allocated to manage and maintain public lands and buildings, or $75,000 less than the previous budget allocation for 2011/12 and $8.7 million has been allocated for insurance coverage alone, which is the same amount allocated in the previous budget funding.
Mr Scott said: “The importance of proper planned maintenance has been highlighted by ongoing discoveries of mould.
“Over the past 20 to 30 years many of our facilities have received only basic reactive maintenance and no planned or programmed maintenance.”
Capital expenditure for upgrades has an allocation of $3 million, compared to the revised $1.5 million allocated in 2011/12, an increase of 50 percent.
The capital expenditure for the All Schools Maintenance budget is $2 million, the same amount allocated in the previous budget plan.
The school’s maintenance budget will be used to address the mould in the library at the Sandys Secondary Middle School.
Mr Scott said: “The work will involve properly sealing the building envelopes, thereby preventing moisture intrusion and improving air quality.”
The Government Administration Building will be one of the first in line for major refurbishment to the roof and exterior walls, along with the General Post Office and the library in the House of Assembly.
Mr Scott noted that hurricanes over the years have “taught us a great deal about the increased vulnerability and higher costs resulting from roof and other structural damage to multiple small buildings”.
On that note he said: “Asset Management Planning for all ministries will recommend future consolidation of uses within fewer but larger purpose-build structures.
“This alternative approach will in turn lead to more efficient use of a scarce and precious resource, our land.”
Government plans to raise some $9.4 million more in 2012/13 or 539 percent more over the estimates for 2011/12 in revenue from public lands and buildings.
Some $10 million is expected to be realised as a result of the sale or long term leasing of underutilised government properties or others that are in dire need of renovation.
The ministry is currently completing the list of such properties, property rentals are expected to generate $1.1 million or $568,000, a 32 percent decrease over fiscal 2011/12.
The capital expenditure estimates for public lands and buildings is $7 million, Sandys 360 will also come in for a grant of $2 million.
Mr Scott’s ministry also has responsibility for the Registrar General’s office and the Department of Information Services. On a happy note he said the introduction of maritime weddings proved to be a success story for the Bermuda Government.
“This Government entered into unchartered waters when it decided to offer Bermuda marriages on board registered ships in the year 2000.” After much due diligence he said government appointed the captains of ships as marriage officers.
Over the last couple of years the number of maritime marriages has exceeded the number of local marriages. “There are currently 27 cruise ships, which includes the three Cunard ships registered in 2011 performing marriages under Bermuda’s Maritime Marriage Act.”
On a more sobering note he said the effects of the economic downturn can readily be seen in the decrease in the number of mortgages and chattel mortgages registered by the department.
Mr Scott explained that “1,123 mortgages and 481 chattel mortgages were recorded in 2011, as compared with 1,508 mortgages and 739 chattel mortgages in 2010, and 1,910 and 1,096 in 2009.”
The Registry General’s office also has responsibility for ensuring that the Island’s Trade Unions are registered annually. There are ten unions in Bermuda, the largest of which are the Bermuda Industrial Union and the Bermuda Public Services Union.
At the end of 2011 there were 418 charitable organisations on the register, 117 of which have short term registration for the duration of one year, 301 have permanent registration status.
And he said government is in the process of preparing amendments to the Charities Act 1978, to give the commissioners increased regulatory authority and to strengthen the reporting requirements of local charities.
He also commended the work of Bermuda’s charitable organisations, particularly the ones that deal with teenagers at risk, including Alpha Phi Alpha, Chain Reaction Bermuda and the Coalition for the Protection of Children.
On that note he said: “These charities and a host of others have purposes and aims that are linked to the government’s mandate of social cohesion.
“The contribute immensely to the value chain of community development in Bermuda and impact directly and critically on countering the growth of gang culture and gang recruitment, proven by-products of deprivation.
“We hereby express our extreme gratitude of these charitable organisations.”
Mr Scott plans to meet with these charities over the next few months to explore more definitively the strategic coordination of their “work and energies” as government works along with them to find improved outcomes for young people in the local community.
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