The construction of a new civic centre in Bodden Town will include offices for four Legislative Assembly members in the building.
Bodden Town district sends only three representatives to the house of assembly.
‘I think Bodden Town should have four seats, but I am a little bit uneasy as to the announcement coming now,’ said Sister Islands MLA Julianna O’Connor-Connolly. ‘Is the (constitutional) referendum going to be a rubber stamp because all the plans have been put in place?’
Ms O’Connor-Connolly’s questioning about plans for the Bodden Town centre led to the revelation about the additional MLA office during the Legislative Assembly’s Finance Committee last week.
Committee members have unanimously approved $1.9 million for the centre, which will include a 500 seat arena, 125 parking spaces and will be able to function as a shelter during major hurricanes.
Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts acknowledged that the Bodden Town Civic Centre would have offices for four elected representatives, but said there was no reason the fourth office would have to be filled immediately.
‘That is not the rationale,’ Mr. Tibbetts said. ‘The rationale is that at some point in the future there will be a use (for the extra MLA office). This building is not just for today.’
Mr. Tibbetts also pointed out that plans for the Bodden Town Civic Centre have been in the works for some time; long before proposals for constitutional modernisation were released.
Plans for constitutional reform do not suggest an overall increase or decrease in the number of elected representatives for any specific voting district. However, if the government’s plan is approved, there will be two new elected members in the Legislative Assembly; a minister of finance and another position that the government has suggested calling the minister of home affairs.
The government has also proposed moving Grand Cayman away from voting districts where several members are elected for a larger area, to single- member constituencies where one member is elected to represent a smaller area. However, that change, if approved, is not expected to result in more overall elected members.
Mr. Tibbetts noted that the Bodden Town Civic Centre plan was based on earlier schematics for a proposed civic centre in West Bay. West Bay district does send four representatives to the LA.
Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush, a West Bay MLA, remarked during finance committee that the Bodden Town construction plan ‘sounds like our plan.’
Ground-breaking for the Bodden Town Civic Centre is expected this month, with completion expected sometime in the latter part of 2009.
Government was also asked about the tendering process for the centre during the finance committee debate.
Mr. Tibbetts said there would be open tendering for the project, with certain requirements as is usual with major government projects. He said no pre-qualification was done on potential bidders.
‘The building is not specialised enough to warrant pre-qualification,’ Mr. Tibbetts said.
Pre-qualification is a process generally used by government to determine whether the company bidding on a project has the ability to complete the work it’s being paid for.