Fahy: ‘Business Vote An Essential Component’

June 12, 2013

Adding the business vote to complement the resident vote in municipal elections is “an essential component of establishing an electoral structure that is right for Bermuda,” Home Affairs Minister Michael Fahy said today [June 12] in the Senate.

The Minister said the government hopes to introduce a business vote on a rate payer basis, meaning that big business owners and small business owners would have the same rights.

Each business would select one person to vote in the municipal election whose name must appear on the parliamentary register, which essentially means that the voter must be Bermudian.

Minister Fahy said, “As a result of the Municipalities Reform Act 2011, all adult citizens who live in one of Bermuda’s two municipalities are eligible to vote and all Adult citizens, whether or not they live within a municipality are eligible to run for municipal offices. These were welcome amendments represented a significant step forward for Bermuda.

“You will appreciate however that Bermuda is a small island and models applied in other jurisdictions generally must be modified when considering the nuances associated with Bermuda given its size.

“Therefore, the introduction of the business vote, to complement the vote by the residents, is an essential component of establishing an electoral structure that is right for Bermuda. In most jurisdictions, the determination with respect to who can vote is based on the demographics of the locale.

“The government hopes to introduce a business vote on a rate payer basis as opposed to the property vote. That is, each rate payer would get one vote.

“This means that big business owners and small business owners would have the same right on an equal basis regardless of revenues, property ownership or any criteria that classifies them by size and or buying power.

“Each rate payer, regardless of the number of outlets in the municipality would have the opportunity to select one person from within their organization to vote in the municipal election.

“The person selected to cast the vote on behalf of the organization must be registered to vote and their name must appear on the parliamentary register. This essentially means that the voter must be Bermudian.”

Minister Fahy’s full statement follows below:

Madam President, I am pleased today to speak to proposed Municipalities Reform.

Madam President, not withstanding that the Municipalities Act 1923 has been amended some thirty seven times since assent, the Corporations of Hamilton and St. George have essentially been chartered for decades under the existing structure while our Island has experienced significant and profound political, social, cultural, economic and infrastructure development.

As a result of the Municipalities Reform Act 2011, all adult citizens who live in one of Bermuda’s two municipalities are eligible to vote and all Adult citizens, whether or not they live within a municipality are eligible to run for municipal offices. These were welcome amendments represented a significant step forward for Bermuda.

Madam President, you will appreciate however that Bermuda is a small island and models applied in other jurisdictions generally must be modified when considering the nuances associated with Bermuda given its size.

Therefore, the introduction of the business vote, to complement the vote by the residents, is an essential component of establishing an electoral structure that is right for Bermuda. In most jurisdictions, the determination with respect to who can vote is based on the demographics of the locale.

Research, based on practices of other jurisdictions, suggests that this can include residents of the municipality, or property owners or tenants. You will recall that historically in Bermuda, property owners could vote in municipal elections.

As we go forward however Madam President, the government hopes to introduce a business vote on a rate payer basis as opposed to the property vote. That is, each rate payer would get one vote. This means that big business owners and small business owners would have the same right on an equal basis regardless of revenues, property ownership or any criteria that classifies them by size and or buying power.

Each rate payer, regardless of the number of outlets in the municipality would have the opportunity to select one person from within their organization to vote in the municipal election. What’s more Madam President, the person selected to cast the vote on behalf of the organization must be registered to vote and their name must appear on the parliamentary register. This essentially means that the voter must be Bermudian.

Madam President, it’s clear that municipal government is an aide to central government both in Bermuda and elsewhere. Generally, local governments, another term used for municipalities, act within powers delegated to them by legislation or directives of the central government.
With this in mind, the proposed amendments to the Municipalities Act 1923 will further define the working relationship and overall governance structure of the municipalities providing the Government with an opportunity to engage in the decision making process.

For instance, it is proposed that general provisions for Mayors, Alderman and Common Councillors will be modified to provide for Mayors and Councillors only.

Also proposed, the Minister, subject to Cabinet approval, shall have statutory responsibility for final approval of any resolution related to the development of municipal areas wherein such development exceeds One Million Dollars ($1M); and also the Minister, again, subject to Cabinet approval, shall have statutory responsibility for final approval of any resolution related to the purchase, holding, etc. of real and personal property, compulsory acquisition of land, municipal rates, and borrowing.

And, the Minister shall have statutory responsibility for final approval of any resolution with respect to any matter deemed of national interest. Of course Madam President, the term national interest will need to be clearly defined.

Madam President, interested members of the public provided robust feedback during two Town Hall Meetings held on Friday, 17th May in Hamilton and Monday, 20th May in St. George. Much of the feedback centered around the proposed rate payer vote, the governance structure and the Corporations’ ability to be self sustaining.

The Corporations were also invited to provide official feedback to the Ministry as a part of the policy development consultation process. The Corporation of St. George requested an extension until 10 June for the delivery of their response and I am pleased to confirm that responses have now been received.

The policy development team is actively assessing the feedback and looking at means by which the Corporation of Hamilton’s Code of Conduct can be incorporated into the legislation; evaluating borrowing limit cap removal for the Corporations; as well as evaluating the reinstatement of wharfage to address operational issues.

Madam President, it is anticipated that the policy development process will conclude within the next few weeks as we endeavour to ensure that a Bill is entered into the legislature during the current legislative session.

Thank you Madam President.

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Comments (14)

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  1. waitasecond says:

    Why don’t we just abolish the Corporation of Hamilton? Grahame Outerbridge has shown us just how dangerous this rogue outfit can be. Perhaps a Government Minister for Hamilton, with true accountability to the electorate at large? After all, Hamilton is important to all Bermudians: the rest of us just live in the subhurbs.

  2. Charter says:

    I disagree with abolishing the Corps. They worked for hundreds of years but were destabilized by the PLP’s power-and-money grab. They can be fixed – by restoring the vote to the taxpayers who fund them and are the primary “customers” for their services.
    I don’t think it is in Bermuda’s interest to consolidate all power in the central government.

  3. DarkSideofTheMoon says:

    So if someone lives in the municipal, and owns a business there, they have two votes? Is this the 50′s or something?

    • Charter says:

      Well, they actually pay taxes twice, so yes why not?

      • justsayin says:

        What the heck? That’s blatantly unfair. That’s like back in the day if a person had more than one house they had more than 1 vote.

        These are some dumb ideas. Fayh needs to focus on getting these 2000 jobs. There are hundreds of people with no job adding to our country’s depression.

  4. Mr. Change says:

    So if i own 5 properties in the city and have 5 businesses based in other buildings around the city I can run this town!! Doesn’t this remind you of the days of old!!!There needs to be some middle ground between letting business interests (and the minority of bermudians that control/benefit the most from them) have a say vs letting them have virtually the only say!!!

    • willSee says:

      You are all wrong with your assumptions on Corporation voting rights.
      Only ONE person may vote on behalf of the property owners and one on behalf of the tenants.
      Should you own the building and business together,you get one vote.
      If multiple persons own a building/business only one person can vote.
      ALL OF YOU GET YOUR FACTS CORRECT.

    • Sandy Bottom says:

      It specifically says that won’t happen. Of course, you have to actually read the article.

  5. Robert says:

    40 thieves are back mate. Faye is a paper bermubian given status. What do did you except form him, he is taking care of those like him and his OBA support base, after all sir David gibbons owns half of the city. Sad group, but this is what the house ni***os voted for, take your licks !!!!!

    • Double Standards says:

      Wow. You’re a nasty piece of work.

      House ni&&ers? You are the epitome of what is wrong with this island socially.

      Absolutely disgusting, but not suprising. You are just another ignorant cog that supports the Party of Hate.

      And remind me again why you think it is fair that individuals who contribute more than 90% of the COH’s taxes shouldn’t have a say in who leads the town?

      Nevermind, don’t answer it. I am pretty sure you will reply in anotehr ignortant, hate filled and quite frankly stupif response as you did above. Ignorant idiot.

      • Robert says:

        You must be an expat yourself looking for a piece of the same pie my ancestors built for you all….let me buy you a ticket out of here, a@#$ !!!!

        • Sandy Bottom says:

          “paper Bermudian”? I know the PLP like to talk about “real Bermudians”. Isn’t everyone just a Bermudian? Or are you suggesting there are superior and inferior Bermudians?

        • Sad says:

          You’re an a*s

  6. It is very clear that the people that are against Fahy on this matter have no interest in seeing Bermuda succeed. It has been explained by “will see” very well what the guidelines are. if the nays don’t understand go find someone to explain it to you.