November 15, 2012
I am writing in response to the inaccuracies in your editorial that appeared in the November 9, 2012 edition of
The Royal Gazette. In order to serve the people of Bermuda fairly and fully, I would like to see the inaccuracies expressed in your editorial corrected and detailed in a similar manner as the editorial was published.
The Santa Claus Parade
Your editorial indicated that the City decided to “levy a fee on the Santa Claus Parade”. This suggests there was an arbitrary decision made to charge the organisers of this event. There is a charge for all events held in the City. The charges are not new and are clearly explained in the documentation which all organisers must complete to host an event in Hamilton. These charges reflect the additional labour and administrative costs incurred specific to the event. The organisers of the Santa Claus Parade have always been aware of the charges associated with their event. In the past the organisers have applied for and received a waiver. However, given the City’s current economic reality, we are not in a position to waive the fees for this year’s parade. This has been explained fully to the organisers.
Awnings and signage policy
Your editorial stated, “Trying to tax awnings and signs on the businesses who now pay the bulk of the City’s taxes and have just lost their own say in the operations of the Corporation is clumsy, especially when there seems to have been no effort to assuage this already aggrieved group.” The Awnings Policy has been in place since at least 1961. Previously City retailers voluntarily came in to City Hall and registered these items. This year the policy was updated to include overhanging signage, and the fee to register signs and awnings, that encroached on City airspace was increased from $25 to $75. This is the first fee increase concerning this policy in many years. These changes will go into effect from January 1, 2013. It should be noted, this policy does not impact retailers whose awnings and signage does not extend over city property or who do not have signs or awnings.
Code of Conduct
You indicated: “The members have delayed signing a code of conduct, which by all accounts is a perfectly reasonable document. Instead it has been sent off for expensive legal consideration.” I have stated categorically to your newspaper that the Members are working diligently to review and strengthen the language within the current Code of Conduct to ensure that it is binding by all who sign it.
Chairman; Development –Infrastructure & –Future Committee
Your editorial asserts, “Under the circumstances, it would have been wise for Mayor Graeme Outerbridge to ensure that there was not even a hint of a conflict of interest. Instead, Mr Smith has a massive one. Worse, no one seems to care.” As I have stated previously, Deputy Mayor Donal Smith has declared his interest, and has recused himself from discussions pertaining to the Par-la-Ville Hotel & Residences Ltd. project. A new lease agreement was signed in April 2012, between the Developer and the previous City of Hamilton Board. The developers have met all of the requirements to date, pursuant to the current development lease agreement.
“The Corporation seems determined to go ahead with the redevelopment of the waterfront and it is critical that this be done in a cleaner than clean and transparent manner. But the Corporation, at the moment, gives every indication of not knowing what that means.” Mr Zuill, as the Mayor of Hamilton, my fellow board members and I are here to serve the residents, businesses, workers and visitors of Hamilton. We will ensure fiscal prudence and responsibility. We will make decisions for the greater good of the organisation and all of the people we serve. We will ensure that we thoroughly and sensitively look at all facets of an issue and make decisions fairly. I look forward to receiving your response on how you plan to move forward to address the concerns I have outlined above.
Mayor of Hamilton