McKenzie brings gifts to Hanover council
The 11 tablets given to seven councillors and four poor relief officers were among a range of items presented to the Hanover Municipal Corporation (HMC) by local government minister Desmond McKenzie during his visit to the corporation on Thursday.
The presentation, which took place during a specially convened meeting of the council at the HMC's building in Lucea, included McKenzie handing over a scanner-photocopier machine, a desktop computer with a printer, and a cheque for $1 million to the Poor Relief Department.
In his address to HMC officials, McKenzie commended the councillors and officers for what he described as major improvements in the corporation's operations since 2015-16 when major areas of weaknesses were identified in the municipality by the contractor general.
"There are still areas that need to be improved upon. There is still some semblance of weakness within the system, but tomorrow, we will spend the entire day as part of that continuation of working closely with the municipality in getting there," said McKenzie.
"But it would be remiss of me if I did not say that there has been more than significant improvement in the administration and the work of the municipal corporation over the last year.
"What is evident is that there has been a collective response to the issues of the municipality. So it is the political directorate on both sides of the political fence, working closely with the administrative arm of the municipality, that has brought some semblance of calm to the municipality," added McKenzie.
In reference to a recent incident in which a member of the media was barred from a planning committee meeting, McKenzie said that the matter, which attracted significant media attention, had "brought some air of disquiet". He said that the corporation should be commended for the steps that were taken to deal with the incident.
"It is an unfortunate incident, one way or the other, and it is not something that is reflective of what local government at any level represents," explained McKenzie.
Subsequent to the meeting, McKenzie told The Gleaner that the tablets had been specially retrofitted so that they could be located should they fall into the wrong hands.
"So far, what I have seen from the municipalities that have received [tablets], they are using them and using them well," said McKenzie, who noted that similar presentations would
be made to all municipal corporations across the island by the end of July 2018.
The project is being funded through the Equalization Fund at a cost of approximately $24 million.