NEW PROVIDENCE CITY CHARTER (Draft)
Corporate Existence, Form of Government, Boundaries and Power
City Council, Mayor
General And Transitional Provisions
Established by a unilateral declaration under the Constitution and laws of the Commonwealth of Bahamas is New Providence City, a place with a defined territory, a Charter and a Government Structure that will move at the speed of the world and be driven by a world class mindset based on ideas, Internet technology, the jet aircraft and transparent open City Government.
The City of New Providence is established to perfect and deepen participatory democracy in a country that saw the rebirth of the new world, the world’s first global people, where Christianity was first established in the western hemisphere, the oldest Parliament in the western hemisphere and where the founding fathers included the word Freedom in the Constitution that is secured by unity, industry, christian values and the rule of law. The City will operate free of Party Politics and the tyranny of entrenched slow Central Government and entrenched bureaucracy. Residents of The City will have a direct say in the running, financing and administration of The City effectively adding for The first time in the history of The Bahamas another layer of fully autonomous City Government. Such declaration dated January 14th, 2017 encompassing all that area South of the junction of Blake Road and JFK Drive taking up the entirety of Lake Killarney to the Northern Side of Carmichael Road running on the Southern Side of Carmichael pass the Coral Harbor Roundabout to an unnamed road, North to Windsor Field Road running thereon until you arrive at the junction of JFK and Blake Road. Such area will henceforth be known as The City of New Providence and will be governed by the terms and conditions outlined in This Constitution and Charter.
ARTICLE I. – CORPORATE EXISTENCE, FORM OF GOVERNMENT, BOUNDARY AND POWERS
Section 1.01. – Corporate existence.
A municipal corporation and authority known as The City of New Providence (the “City”) is hereby created pursuant to The Constitution of The Commonwealth of The Bahamas (The “State”) and The Local Government Act. The corporate existence of The City commenced on January 14th 2017 date of The Declaration.
Section 1.02. – Form of government.
The City shall have a Mayor-Council form of government. There shall be a City Council, which shall be the governing body of the City with all legislative powers of the City vested therein, consisting of ten (10) Council Members, the outgoing Mayor, one member of an outgoing Administration such counsel member will be selected by how much losing votes polled and a person who shall be selected by The Mayor. The Mayor shall be responsible for Chairing City Meetings; all such Meetings to be conducted in Public and archived and the general day-to-day administration of the City.
Section 1.03. – Corporate boundary.
The corporate boundary of the City shall be as follows:
BEGIN and end at the Junction of Blake Road and John F. Kennedy Drive encircling Lake Killarney all the way to Carmichael running thereon to Street, north to Windsor Field Road encircling The Lynden Pindling International Airport, east along Windsor Field Road until the junction of Blake Road and John F. Kennedy drive.
Section 1.04. – Powers.
The City shall have all available governmental, corporate and proprietary powers and may exercise them except when prohibited by law. Through the adoption of this Charter, it is the intent of the electors of the City that the municipal government established herein have the broadest exercise of home rule powers permitted under the Constitution and laws of the Commonwealth of Bahamas.
Section 1.05. – Construction.
The powers of the City under this Charter shall be construed liberally in favor of the City, and the specific mention of particular powers in the Charter shall not be construed as limiting in any way the general power granted in this Article.
ARTICLE II. – LEGISLATION
Section 2.01. Form of Government.
The City of New Providence was declared January 14th 2017 and and confirmed by an enabling (Act of Parliament dated 2018) the City shall have a Mayor-Council form of government. There shall be a City Council, which shall be the governing body of the City with all legislative powers of the City vested therein, consisting of ten (10) Council Members. There shall also be a Mayor who is elected at large and who shall not be a member of the City Council and will Chair all Council Meetings or his/her designate. The Council shall be the judge of the eligibility, election, and qualification of its members.
Election and Terms. The nonpartisan primary and general election of the Council Members and the Mayor shall be held in the manner provided in Article VI of this Charter and the terms of office for Mayor and Council Members shall be a term of 5 years and will commence on the date of January 14th of each succeeding 5 years. No person shall serve more than two (2) terms or three (3) terms in the case of Council Members.
Limitations of Terms for Mayor and Council Members; Effective Date. (a) Mayor. No person shall be elected to serve as Mayor for more than 2 consecutive terms on and after the general election in. (b) City Council Members. No person shall be elected to serve as a Council Member for more than 3 consecutive terms.
MAYOR AND CITY COUNCIL Section 4.01. Mayor. (a) Powers and Duties. The Mayor, who shall serve in a full-time capacity, and shall exemplify good citizenship and exhibit a cooperative spirit, shall have the following powers and duties: (1) To exercise the executive powers of the City and supervise all departments, including, but not limited to, the power to appoint, discipline, and remove all officers and employees, unless otherwise provided in this Charter. (2) To enforce the charter and ordinances of the City and all applicable laws under the Commonwealth of The Bahamas. (3) To present recommendations to the City Council on the requirements of its municipal government. (4) To appoint a City Administrator, who shall serve at the pleasure of the Mayor. (5) To appoint a City Attorney, with the consent of the City Council by an affirmative vote of a majority of City Council Members, and who may be removed by the Mayor with the consent of the City Council by an affirmative vote of a majority of the City Council Members. (6) To appoint the City Clerk, with the consent of the City Council by an affirmative vote of a majority of the City Council Members, and who may be removed by the Mayor with the consent of the City Council by an affirmative vote of a majority of the City Council Members. (7) To appoint the head of each department, with the consent of the City Council by an affirmative vote of a majority of City Council Members. (8) To suspend, discipline, or remove a department head with or without cause, and without the consent of City Council Members, unless otherwise provided for in this Charter. (9) To prepare and submit the annual budget and capital program to the City Council. (10) To exercise a veto power over ordinances and resolutions adopted by City Council within five (5) days of adoption by City Council, except the Mayor may not exercise veto power over (i) an emergency ordinance as defined in The City Charter; (ii) those ordinances adopted as a result of quasi-judicial proceedings when such proceedings are mandated by law; and (iii) ordinances proposing Charter amendments, which the Council is required by law or by this Charter to place on the ballot. The Mayor may veto any “line item” in a budget or 4 appropriation ordinance or resolution within five (5) days of adoption by City Council. A veto may be overridden only by an affirmative vote of a majority plus one (1) of the Council Members. (11) To attend all meetings of the City Council with authority to participate in discussions, but without power to vote. (12) To submit to the City Council and make available to the public a complete report of the finances and administrative activities of the City at the end of each fiscal year. (13) To keep the City Council fully advised as to the financial condition and future needs of the City. (14) To devote his or her entire work time to the performance of the duties of the Mayor’s office, and hold no other elected public office while Mayor. (15) To determine, consistent with this Charter, the organization of the City government and the power and duties assigned to the various departments.
City Council. (a) Powers and Duties. City Council Members shall exemplify good citizenship and exhibit a cooperative spirit. The City Council shall have the following powers and duties: (1) To legislate for the City by adopting ordinances and resolutions in the best interest of all residents of the City. (2) To adopt the annual budget and all other appropriations necessary for efficient City government. 5 (3) To inquire into the conduct of any municipal office, department, agency or officer and to investigate municipal affairs, and for that purpose, may subpoena witnesses, administer oaths and compel the production of books, papers, or other evidence. (4) To override the Mayor’s veto of an ordinance or resolution by an affirmative vote of at least a majority plus one (1) of the Council Members. (5) To devote such time as is necessary to the performance of City Council duties, and hold no other elected public office or be an employee of the City while a City Council Member. (6) The City Council shall establish an Office of the City Council and shall have as its staff the following who shall be responsible to the City Council through the President of the Council: (a) Budget Analyst. The City Council is authorized to employ a Budget Analyst or an individual with similar qualifications, pursuant to the City’s position classification code, to assist the budgetary matters of the City Council. The City Council, by ordinance, shall define the qualifications, pay and responsibilities of said employee in accordance with the City’s position classification code. The employee shall be subject to termination by a majority vote of the City Council; (b) Legal Aide. The City Council may appoint one assistant city attorney, whose salary shall be in accordance with those established for other assistant city attorneys. Said assistant city attorney shall (1) serve only in an advisory capacity to the City Council, and shall perform only such duties of a technical nature, including drafting of ordinances, legal research and providing advisory opinions, as requested by the City Council through its President, (2) perform such other duties required of him by the city attorney with the concurrence of the President of the City Council, (3) be subject to termination by a majority vote of the City Council; and (4) be responsible to the City Council through the President of the Council. Said assistant city attorney shall not file suit or bring or defend any action in court on behalf of the City Council, Mayor, the several departments, officers, and boards of the City government except with written authorization of the City Attorney. No action or opinion of said assistant city attorney shall be construed to be the official legal position of the City , and such official legal positions and actions shall be solely within the scope and powers and duties of the City Attorney; (c) Council Executive. The City Council is authorized to hire a Council Executive. The City Council shall define the qualifications, pay and responsibilities of said employee in accordance with the City’s position classification code. The employee shall be subject to termination by a majority vote of the City Council; (d) Executive Assistant. The City Council is authorized to hire an Executive Assistant. The City Council shall define the qualifications, pay and responsibilities of said employee in accordance with the City’s position classification code. The employee shall be subject to termination by a majority vote of the City Council; and (e) Other Staff. The City Council may create and fill other staff positions for the purpose of assisting it in the performance of its legislative function.
Without limiting the generality of clauses ______ but subject to ________, council may pass by-laws
(a) respecting requirements for plans relating to construction;
(b) respecting standards relating to construction;
(c) respecting standards relating to the design and appearance of buildings;
(d) establishing a system to regulate the condition and maintenance of vacant dwellings or non-residential buildings, or classes of them, which may include provisions respecting
(i) the manner in which the dwellings or buildings must be secured by owners or, on default, may be secured by the city,
(ii) inspections by the city of the condition of the dwellings or buildings, including their interior condition, and
(iii) the length of time that dwellings or buildings may remain boarded up;
(e) respecting permitted degrees of non-conformity with the requirements of a by-law; and
(f) prescribing qualifications for individuals who are engaged in any work in construction.
BUDGET PROCEDURE AND GENERAL FINANCE
Withdrawal of City Funds
SECTION 8.14. All funds of the City drawn from the treasury shall be drawn pursuant to an appropriation by the Council and by checks signed by the Controller and countersigned by the Treasurer. Each check shall specify the fund or funds from which it is payable.
Funds for Public Improvement
(a) The City may establish and maintain a fund or funds for the purpose of accumulating moneys to be used for making, acquiring, extending, altering, or repairing authorized public improvements. Moneys so accumulated may be transferred, encumbered, or otherwise disposed of only for the purpose for which they were accumulated, unless another purpose is approved by a resolution concurred in by at least eight members of the Council, after public hearing. No such moneys shall be so transferred, encumbered, or otherwise disposed of, except for the purpose of making, acquiring, extending, altering, or repairing public improvements.
(b) Whenever property is acquired for any public improvement, the cost of the property, and of the proceedings required to acquire it, may be added to the cost of the improvement.
Power to Tax
SECTION 9.1. In order to carry out its purposes, powers, and duties, the City may assess, levy, and collect ad valorem taxes upon real and personal property and stamp duty on leasing, real estate, income and capital gains.
SECTION 9.3. Except as otherwise provided by this charter, city taxes shall be levied, collected, and returned in the manner provided by law. In the event of failure of any tax through defective procedure of any assessment, collection, or sale, the Council may provide for its re-assessment upon the property chargeable therewith in the first instance.
Rate of tax levy.
The city council shall by resolution fix the rate of tax to be levied upon all the taxable property within the city for municipal purposes; and, through the city clerk, shall officially certify such levy to the 12% or less.
Tax revenue sharing
Central Government shall receive 40% of all taxes collected in the City net of expenses plus all applicable 7.5% VAT
Tax abatement guidelines and criteria governing reinvestment zones and tax abatement agreements.
Authorization of abatement.
Economic qualifications. In order for the owner of property within a reinvestment zone to be eligible to receive a tax abatement, the owner must show that the planned project will benefit the city in some or all of the following six categories:
- Primary and nonprimary jobs;
- Improvements to real property and/or investment in personal property;
- Employee payroll;
- Diversity in the economic base; and
- Synergy for additional economic development and/or intangible benefits to the city.
The planned project will be awarded points in the aforesaid categories to determine whether or not it is eligible for consideration for an abatement and what level of abatement is available. The criteria for awarding points and the various levels of tax abatement available are shown in subsections (g), (h) and (i) of this section.
Creation of new value. Abatement may be granted for real property in each year covered by an agreement only to the extent its value for that year exceeds its value for the year in which the agreement is executed. Abatement may be granted for tangible personal property located on the real property in each year covered by the agreement other than tangible personal property that was located on the real property at any time before the period covered by the agreement with the city and other than inventory and supplies.
Agricultural exemptions denied. No tax abatement shall be granted for any real property unless and until full market value taxes have been paid for five years prior to the execution of a tax abatement agreement.
Industrial districts. No tax abatement shall be granted for any property included in an industrial district.
Eligible property. Tax abatement agreements may exempt from taxation a portion of the value of the real property and/or of tangible personal property located on the real property, or other property, as provided by V.T.C.A., Tax Code ch. 312.
Owned/leased facilities. If a leased facility is granted an abatement, the tax abatement agreement shall be signed by both the lessor and the lessee.
Value and term of abatement. Abatement shall be granted effective on January 1 of the year following the date of execution of the tax abatement agreement. The percentage of the increase abated shall be specified in each tax abatement agreement; however, no tax abatement agreement shall exceed ten years.
Definitions. The following words, terms and phrases, when used in this section, shall have the meanings ascribed to them in this subsection, except where the context clearly indicates a different meaning:
Intangibles means that a business will provide indirect but important benefits to the city, such as name recognition, tourism promotion, etc.
Primary job means a job that is available at a company for which a majority of the products or services of that company are ultimately exported to regional, statewide, national, or international markets infusing new dollars into the local economy.
Synergism means that a business will have a mutually advantageous compatibility with other businesses in the city.
(c) Public hearing and approval.
Prior to entering into any tax abatement agreement, the city may, at its option, hold a public hearing at which interested persons shall be entitled to speak for or against the approval of the tax abatement agreement.
Before approving any tax abatement agreement, the city must find that the terms of the proposed agreement meet these guidelines and criteria and that:
There will be no substantial adverse effect on the provision of city services or on its tax base; and
The planned use of the property will not constitute a hazard to public safety, health or welfare.
Agreement. In addition to the specific requirements of V.T.C.A., Tax Code § 312.205, the tax abatement agreement shall include the following:
An estimated increase to be abated and the current assessed value of property;
A percent of increase to be abated each year;
A commencement and expiration date of abatement;
A proposed use of improvement, nature of construction, time schedule, map, and property description; and
If the tax abatement is requested for a commercial or industrial project, the projected number of primary and nonprimary jobs created per year for the life of the tax abatement agreement.
Assignment. Tax abatement agreements may be assigned to a new owner or lessee of the improvements with the written consent of the city. Any assignment shall provide that the assignee shall irrevocably and unconditionally assume all duties and obligations of the assignor as set out in the agreement. No assignment shall be approved if the assignor or assignee are indebted to the city for ad valorem taxes or other obligations.
Amendments to guidelines. These guidelines and criteria are effective upon the date of the adoption of the ordinance from which they are derived and will remain in force for two years, at which time all reinvestment zones and tax abatement agreements created pursuant to its provisions will be reviewed by the city to determine whether the goals have been achieved.
Criteria for eligibility for tax abatement for new business.
ARTICLE VI CITY ELECTIONS
Regular City Elections
SECTION 13.2. A regular City election shall be held on January 14th every 5 years.
Authority of Council
(a) The authority to authorize the making of contracts on behalf of the City is vested in the Council and, except as otherwise provided by this charter, shall be exercised in accordance with the provisions of law and this chapter. Such exception granted to the declaring Founder Lester R. Cox until such time as the City has 5,000 residents, such election of the City Council will be declared January 14th of the following year.
(b) All contracts, agreements, understandings, Memorandum of Understanding except as otherwise provided in this Charter or by ordinance of the Council in accordance with the provisions of Section 14.2 of this Charter, shall be approved by the Council and shall be signed on behalf of the City by the Mayor and the Clerk or The Founding Mayor until such time as the City has 5,000 residents and general elections. The Founding Mayor shall appoint and exercise all powers of The Mayor and Council until such time as general elections can occur including the power to fund raise, issue City Bonds, list City Shares on The Bahamas International Stock Exchange, grant commissions, payment of fees, setting compensation, stock options including to himself as Founding Mayor and to persons and organizations providing accounting, brokerage, investment, legal and other services to the City. The City shall raise $2,000,000,000 through cash, bonds, partnerships and other financial instruments to compensate land owners including The Government whose property shall be subject to Imminent Domain clauses deemed in the public’s good, power generation, sewerage disposal, water, roads, construction of City offices, a housing district, a City Centre, wired, wireless and satellite communications network, public transportation, solar and electrical infrastructure including the purchase or lease of a flat bottom barge, a vegetable and livestock centre. The Founding Mayor is by this Charter required to hold all documents in public archives on The Notice Board of the City for inspection by City residents, City partners and City service providers. No document of the City shall be subject to individual or corporate privacy or secrecy.
PUBLIC UTILITY SERVICES
General Powers Respecting Municipal Utilities
(a) The City shall be a green City and have all the powers granted by law to acquire, construct, own, operate, improve, enlarge, extend, repair, and maintain public utilities, either within or without its corporate limits and either within or without the corporate limits of the City, including, but not by way of limitation, public utilities for supplying water and water treatment, sewage disposal and treatment, electric light and power, gas, public transportation, or any of them, to the municipality and the inhabitants thereof; and al so to sell water, electricity, gas, transportation, and other utility services beyond its corporate limits as authorized by law.
(b) The Council may provide by ordinance for the establishment of a public utility, but an ordinance providing for a newly owned and operated utility shall be enacted only after such hearings and procedure as required by law.
Council may pass by-laws respecting
(a) the collection, handling, recycling and disposal of solid waste;
(b) the collection, handling, treatment and disposal of wastewater; and
(c) securing the proper drainage of land in the city.
Departments of Fire and Police.
(1) For the purpose of maintaining peace and order in the City and for protecting persons and property, both a Police Department and a Fire Department shall be maintained. Such departments shall not be combined.
(2) The executive head of the Police Department shall be the Chief of Police and the executive head of the Fire Department shall be the Fire Chief. The Chief of Police and the Fire Chief shall each hold his position by virtue of appointment as provided by law and shall be responsible to the Mayor for the performance of his respective duties as the executive head of his department, and shall be subject to removal by the Mayor in the manner permitted by law.
(3) Each member of the Police and Fire Departments shall, before entering upon the duties of his office or employment, take an oath similar to that required of officers of the City and shall file a copy thereof, subscribed by him, with the Clerk.
Rights and liabilities of a corporation
The City has all the rights and is subject to all the liabilities of a corporation.
Where a power is expressly given under this Act to the city or council to do, or enforce the doing of, any act or thing,
(a) all powers that are necessary or convenient to enable the City or Council to do, or enforce the doing of, the act or thing are deemed also to have been given to the City or council, as the case may be; and
(b) if the doing by the city or council of any act or thing expressly authorized is dependent on the doing of any other act or thing not expressly authorized, the city or council, as the case may be, has the power to do that other act or thing.
Without limiting the generality of any other provision of this Act, the city may, for its purposes,
(a) acquire, hold, encumber, mortgage, lease, dispose of, and otherwise deal with, land, improvements and personal property, or interests in land, improvements and personal property, whether within or outside the city; and
(b) lease or otherwise authorize the use of space or air rights above or below the established grade level of a street.
Dealing with property
Without limiting the generality of clause ______, the City may, for its purposes
(a) acquire property by lease, purchase, partnership, imminent domain, exchange or gift, and on terms and conditions acceptable to the city;
(b) expropriate land and improvements in accordance with ____________;
(c) acquire and grant options to purchase, lease or sell property;
(d) dispose of, by sale, assignment, lease, exchange or gift, and on terms and conditions acceptable to council, property of the city, or any interest in or right to property, that council considers no longer necessary for the purposes of the city, or in the case of leasing the property, not needed immediately for the purposes of the city;
(e) accept a mortgage or other encumbrance as security for the sale price of property disposed of by the city; and
(f) acquire property offered or transferred to it in partial or full settlement or payment of, or as security for, any indebtedness owing to the city, or any lien or charge on property or any right to such a lien or charge.
The fiscal year of the City is the 12 months ending on January 14th in each year.
Annual operating budget
Before January 14 of each fiscal year, or such later day in the year as may be fixed for that year by the Council for the purposes of this section, Council must adopt an operating budget for that year.
Capital budget and forecast
Before January 14 of each fiscal year, Council must adopt a capital budget for that year and a capital forecast for the next five fiscal years.
Manner and form
The Mayor may, where the Mayor considers it necessary or advisable, prescribe the manner and form in which the city’s operating budgets, capital budgets and capital forecasts, or any of them, shall be prepared.
Content of operating budget
Every operating budget of the city for a fiscal year shall include estimates of
(a) all operating revenue for the year, including all
(i) amounts, that under this or any other charter or enabling Act, are required to be raised in the year by imposing taxes, and
(ii) transfers from the previous year’s surplus or a reserve fund;
(b) all operating expenditures for the year, including all amounts
(i) to be transferred in the year to the capital budget or a reserve fund,
(ii) needed to eliminate any deficit incurred in respect of the previous fiscal year, and
(iii) needed to defray the cost of collection of taxes, the abatement of and discounts on taxes and taxes considered by council to be uncollectible; and
(c) all amounts required to pay principal and interest payments falling due within the year on any debt of the city.
Expenditures not to exceed revenues
In adopting an operating budget, Council must ensure that the estimated expenditures for a fiscal year do not exceed the estimated revenues for the year.
Content of capital budget and capital forecast
The capital budget of the city for each fiscal year and each five year capital forecast of the city shall include estimates of
(a) the amount needed to acquire or construct each of the works proposed in the budget or forecast; and
(b) the anticipated sources of the amount needed for each of those works.