Warden Hunter talks to Amherst Rotary Club
Inter-municipal co-operation remains high on the agenda for the Municipality of Cumberland.
© Darrell Cole - Cumberlandnewsnow.com
Cumberland County Warden Keith Hunter speaks to Amherst Rotary Club members on Monday.
AMHERST – Cumberland County is going to continue pushing for additional inter-municipal sharing in the coming year and beyond.
That was the message Cumberland County Warden Keith Hunter brought to members of the Amherst Rotary Club during his annual address to the organization on Monda.
“Inter-municipal co-operation has been a success story for us in 2013 and it will continue be in 2014,” Hunter told Rotarians.
The warden said significant gains were made in service sharing during the last 12 months with both Amherst and the county agreeing to conduct a study that could result in a joint corporate services/finance department over the next several years.
Hunter said it’s important to note that no existing jobs will be cut and job reductions will be achieved through attrition.
“We will not lose any staff positions on the first go through,” Hunter told Rotarians. “We will only reduce staff through attrition, like when they retire or move away.”
Added examples of municipal sharing include the regional emergency management organization that already includes Cumberland County, Springhill, Oxford and Parrsboro. With the retirement of Amherst Fire Chief Bill Crossman in the spring, Amherst has opted to sign the regional organization.
As well, Amherst and the county have signed a memorandum of understanding to develop an economic development strategic plan with Amherst’s Roger MacIsaac working on a business development plan and Jim Campbell working on a community economic development plan that will be shared by both municipalities.
“Instead of having four people to do those jobs, we’ll have two people for both municipalities,” he said.
The two municipal units have also signed a principles of co-operation agreement that removes threats and provides a framework for co-operation and shared services.
Some of that sharing has already begun, the warden said, with the county’s decision to bring Amherst water to Maccan. Talks, he said, are continuing on the safest and most effective way to establish a link between Amherst and the Cumberland Regional Health Care Centre and to link Blair Lake Road residents with the town.
“All this is a good first step toward having all five munipalities working together,” Hunter said, repeating his ongoing support for municipal amalgamation. “It may not happen in my lifetime, but sometime in the future light bulb will come on and someone will ask why are doing this with five municipalities when we could be doing it with one.”
Hunter said any decision on service sharing or even amalgamation had to be voluntary.
The warden talked to Rotarians about some of the county’s plans this year including implementing performance development plans for staff development.
These personal development plans would see the creation of a coaching culture, bring about positive staff relationships, engage and enable staff and increase morale and job satisfaction.
The county also wants to create a better customer service experience with improvements that have already been made to billing and the issuing of building permits.
Along with a number of capital plans, including developing a new water system for Pugwash and completion of the Thinker’s Lodge National Historic Site, the warden said the county is working on a number of strategic priorities including increasing community and citizen engagement, depopulation and aging demographics, financial sustainability, mitigating climate change, environmental planning and natural resources stewardship and citizen health and wellbeing.