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Mayor defends $1.2M spent for retreat

Claudienne Edwards

Thursday, October 11, 2012    

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MAYOR of Kingston Councillor Angela Brown Burke has defended the $1.2 million spent for the recent three-day retreat at the Riu Ocho Rios resort for councillors and senior staff of the Kingston and St Andrew Corporation (KSAC), saying it was money well spent.

Brown Burke said that the money paid for accommodation also covered breakfast, lunch and dinner. She said that although the sessions started at 9:00 am and ended at 7:00 pm discussions continued outside of the official hours, noting that despite the fact that participants did not always agree "there was a level of cohesion from the time we spent together".

She said that it was also agreed that a town hall meeting would be held once every quarter, while there was an agreement for cross-training to make the council more efficient because of a staff shortage. The KSAC has 186 establishment posts but 52 are vacant, said Brown Burke.

She said: "Together we formulated our new mission to diligently serve the citizens of Kingston and St Andrew with professionalism, where transparency, integrity and honesty act as our hallmark by partnering with communities so that order, a clean and healthy environment are the norm."

The retreat was boycotted by Duane Smith, the Jamaica Labour Party councillor (Chancellor Hall Division) who claimed that the objectives of the retreat could have been met in Kingston and at the same time saved the KSAC hundreds of thousands of dollars that could be better spent on dealing with "outstanding issues".

Smith was also peeved that correspondence to Brown Burke, seeking assistance to clear rubble on streets in his constituency after Tropical Storm Isaac were ignored.

Brown Burke said that she has had discussions with Smith and had agreed that there should be an annual divisional allocation.

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