Scott calls on Springhill to postpone dissolution

Christopher Gooding
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SPRINGHILL – The former MLA for Cumberland South is having a hard time with the decision to dissolve Springhill.

Former Cumberland South MLA Murray Scott is taking issue with how the decision was made to dissolve the Town of Springhill after finding many of the questions he has are being echoed in the community.

Murray Scott, who served with the Nova Scotia Progressive Conservatives from 1998 to 2010 before retiring from politics, has pondered the decision for several weeks and has come to the same conclusion he says many people have drawn since mayor and council announced the decision in March – why?

“I love this town. I was born and raised here. It’s been good to me and my family,” Scott said in an interview this week after sending a letter to the editor over his concerns. “I just think it’s incumbent on all of us to make sure the community remains as we know it. I don’t doubt the hard choices, but I hoped before the decision was made the community could have explored all of the options together.”

Scott says he spoke with a number of residents over the issue and the questions he was hearing from citizens were largely the same as his own. What was the financial picture? What were the options? How out of hand were the town’s finances really?

At the end of the day, unanswered questions are plaguing the process and needs to be rectified before a decision like dissolving the incorporated town moves forward.

“Some people I’ve spoken to are just sickened by the decision and you can either sit back and say the decision is made or you can try to get some answers. The people who pay taxes, shouldn’t they have the final say?”

There’s nothing from stopping the town from notifying the province and the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board it is postponing the application to dissolve the town, Scott said. If they did, citizens could be consulted and given the same information used to come to the decision before offering a plebiscite. If things are as grim as the public has been told, the people will draw the same conclusion, Scott said, and letting the people come to that decision is part of the democratic process.

“I hoped before the decision was made the community could have explored all of the options together.”

“I think its vital public meetings be held… I’m not an accountant but I have questions myself. I think people, at the end of the day, will make the right decision.”

A transparent and engaged process is essential, Scott said, because the decision to dissolve the town will remove a lot of its lobbying power in the future. As an example, he points to the All Saints Hospital and the many times its was mayor and council who rallied the people to fight for keeping it open when previous governments considered closing it. The move to close the existing regional health authorities in favour of two provincial authorities is a loss of one group of advocates, Scott said. The loss of mayor and council is another.

“My experience has been local issues need local people. The former mayors banded the community to make sure All Saints stayed open here,” Scott said. “If they dissolve, no one is left to fight for All Saints. The decision is going to be made in Halifax by the finance department and I’ve heard it before, why have a local hospital when you have a regional hospital just twenty minutes away.”

Its issues like this and many more Scott says will come up in the following five years after dissolution the public needs all the information it can absorb before going to a plebiscite on the issue of dissolution.

Read Murray Scott's letter to the editor here. 

Organizations: Nova Scotia Progressive Conservatives, Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board, All Saints Hospital

Geographic location: All Saints, Halifax

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Recent comments

  • Nick
    April 10, 2014 - 14:01

    I agree with Murray Scott. I fully understand there are major financial obstacles Springhill faces, but these did not happen overnight. Surely many on town council knew the state of finances and discussions were held on what course of action needs to be taken. Read what Mr. Scott said, look into sharing services (i.e. policing, fire, etc.). Maybe the best course of action is to dissolve the town, but the taxpayers and residents are the ones who MUST make this decision not a handful of councillors. This is a very serious decision that requires full transparency.

  • Silly Sally
    April 09, 2014 - 01:51

    The say the Springhill cops took up almost 40 per cent of the Springhill budget. If amalgamation means getting rid of the cops, so be it. I'd also like to point out that Murray Scott is a former Springhill cop. Maybe his perspective and judgement has been clouded by his friends on the force. I'd like to know what he thinks of Springhiller's paying that high of a percentage of taxes to the Springhill police force, many of who, I might add, get paid for not working.

    • Lizard King
      April 09, 2014 - 12:00

      I can't help but agree with your assessment Silly. I can picture it now. Gool Ol' police chief Dean Ruddick calling up his ol' buddy Murray and saying, "You gotta step in ol' buddy boy. You gotta stop this Max Snow fellow before he destroys all of us, because if you don't we're not going to have any jobs down here at the police station." Then Murray said, "We gotta stick together ol' buddy. I'll see what I can do."

  • Silas
    April 08, 2014 - 18:03

    Who should the council run this by, the people of the town, who sat by and watched this great town be robbed at every opportunity. we all knew this was going on and no one did anything about it. Now we are 5 million in the hole. When the news broke, and the atv news did an interview...who was the one doing the talking??? case closed.

  • Reg
    April 08, 2014 - 14:37

    Whether Springhill town council was right or wrong with this decision will be tested by future actions that will affect the services of town. This may or may not effect the quality of life in the community. That being said, such an important decision affecting all citizens demands that that there should have been open and transparent consultation with the people of the town before any decision was made.

  • John Alderson
    April 08, 2014 - 14:26

    Prior to Canso amalgamation - public discussion; prior to Liverpool amalgamation - public consultation; prior to Bridgetown amalgamation - public discussion; prior to Hansport amalgamation - public consultation; prior to Springhill amalgamation - NO PUBLIC CONSULTATION. Does anyone see anything wrong with the process that was used in Springhill? Hopefully words from Murray Scott will lead the Springhill Mayor and Council to realize the public must be involved and have input before the decision to amalgamate is made.

  • Don Stubbert
    April 08, 2014 - 13:54

    I totally agree with the comments made by Murrat Scott . The people needed to be fully informed before such a decision was made. This needs to taker place.

  • Anita MacLellan
    April 08, 2014 - 12:38

    I don't understand how this decision came about without public meetings and full disclosure in the first place. No stone should be left unturned when a town's future is at stake. I wonder if other towns considering amalgamation have thought beyond the actual action to what the future might actually hold. Whether Murray Scott is right or wrong, he's given residents food for thought and careful consideration should be given to his comments. Best of luck to Springhill. May you make the right decision.

  • Jim Snell
    April 08, 2014 - 11:04

    I disagree with you Colin and I think there are lots of ways to bring this town around as Murray was saying. It will certainly take work but it has to be done, we can't just give our town and all of its resources away!! And dissolution is not going to necessarily lower taxes. Our forefathers worked hard to make Springhill a town and a good place to live and raise our families and I think we should honor them by working just as hard to keep our TOWN. In my opinion.

  • Colin Martin
    April 08, 2014 - 09:12

    The Town cannot afford to continue on, with the low tax base, 1600 taxpayers will not pay 1.5 million budget for police and 1.6 million for the Works Dept. plus road upkeep, recreation, etc. Its alright for people with large incomes to say oh well we can pay our taxes, but low incomes cannot, also no one is going to move here pay the high taxes and see the shape of the roads. It is time to move on. I hope council isn't persuaded by a few people that may want to hold onto the past, but pass the expenses on to the future generations.

  • Debbie
    April 08, 2014 - 07:34

    I agree with you 100%. A lot of unanswered questions