County, town to renew water dispute

Darrell Cole
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Cumberland applies for intervenor status

AMHERST - An ongoing water dispute between Amherst and Cumberland County will be renewed next week when the county appears before a Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board hearing on the town's plan to increase water rates.

The county's director of public works, Robert Streatch, confirmed Wednesday the county has requested intervenor status with the utility and review board and its main focus will be on an Amherst plan to increase the amount of money it receives from the county for approximately 30 hydrants outside the town.

"We're concerned about the hydrant charges. We signed a fire protection agreement with the town about a year-and-a-half ago and it was supposed to be all-inclusive. Now they're trying to include all the fire hydrants in the county," Streatch said. "You're talking about an extra $40,000 a year."

Streatch is concerned the town's prposal goes against the spirit of the fire protection agreement. He's also concerned with how the town is defining the hydrants, pointing out that many of the hydrants can't be used for fire protection.

"It's our understanding that some of the hydrants weren't designed for fire protection but for flushing purposes and air release, but the town is introducing all hydrants within the county geographically," he said. "We don't know why all this is happening."

The county, he added, has other concerns with the town's water utility and hopes to introduce the long-standing water dispute between the two municipalities to the UARB.

The utility and review board has scheduled a day for the hearing on Tuesday beginning at 11 a.m. at the Amherst Fire Department.

In November, Amherst accepted a water rate study from W.H. Gates Utility Consulting that is proposing raising water rates for most residential customers by 5.9 per cent in 2010-11, 5.5 per cent in 2011-12 and 4.3 per cent in 2012-13. It would amount to about $3 a quarter on the water bill, or $1 a month.

In the report to council, consultant Gerry Isenor suggested fire protection rates should be shared between the town and the county based on the number of hydrants in each jurisdiction.

Amherst's CAO Greg Herrett said he's aware of the county's position but declined comment until the hearing.

Organizations: Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board, Amherst Fire Department, W.H. Gates Utility Consulting

Geographic location: AMHERST, Cumberland County

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Recent comments

  • Cesar
    February 24, 2010 - 23:46

    How do we spell AMALGAMATION...That will put an end to all this bickering. We have way too many elected municipal politicians in Cumberland County who spend more time fighting with each other rather than work for the good of the area. Remember the fighting that ensued over the hospital site, the proposed jail, schools, the list goes on and on and on.

  • Greg
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    Wow, I don't remember the last time I saw so many people agreeing on a topic in these posts ... usually when it's political in nature that debate heats up! This time everyone agrees ... are the municipal leaders paying attention here?

  • Ben
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    We do have a lot of municipal politicians around here, but getting rid of 10 municipal politicians might save $200,000 a year...the real financial gains come from the amalgation of departments...instead or two directors, you now have one...10 of these types would save you approximately $1,000,000 dollars a year. Attrition and a hiring freeze for 3 years is a good way to start.

  • Steve
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    Well said Cesar,

    My sentiments exactly.

    IMHO as always.

  • biggles
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    What a great idea, amalgamation, not only the political positions, the municipal staff positions, and even the municipal services, let's create one fire service, with a few amalgamations!

  • peter
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    Why are water rates going up 5 or 6 times the rate of inflation. How about holding the line on this. Irresponsible to have these kind of increases.

    I agree with other posters amalgamation is the only answer to cut cost. Way to many politicians, department heads, police forces, etc, for a county with one of the lowest population bases in the province.

  • Switters
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    I agree, there are far too many politicians in Cumberland. It makes for great politics, but not so great public service. Maybe they should thinm about amalgamation.