Scott continues to question amalgamation

Darrell Cole
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Former MLA asks what’s the rush to join the county

Former MLA Murray Scott does not feel a public meeting last week in Springhill has cleared up any questions with the town's proposed amalgamation with Cumberland County.

Former MLA Murray Scott does not feel a public meeting last week in Springhill has cleared up any questions with the town's proposed amalgamation with Cumberland County.

SPRINGHILL – Former Conservative MLA Murray Scott is still not convinced amalgamation is the answer for Springhill’s financial troubles.

Speaking following town council’s public meeting last week on dissolution, Scott questioned why there’s such a rush to act without all the facts.

“Provincial documents indicate that Springhill is in the mid-range when compared to other towns in Nova Scotia in regards to most financial and infrastructure matters,” Scott said in a news release. “This being the case, why rush to dissolve the town without the citizens having all the facts and having been given an opportunity to provide some input.”

Soon after the town announced in March that it would be applying to the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board to dissolve the town and join the county, Scott and several other residents have been leading an opposition movement demanding additional information from Mayor Max Snow and town council.

Last Thursday, Snow and Deputy Mayor Darrell White presented the town’s case for dissolution saying the status quo is not working and suggesting the town is out of financial options because of its aging population, uncollected taxes, crumbling infrastructure and crippling debt.

Scott said there are many issues in that presentation that need clarification including projections of future deficits without supporting documentation, use of provincial indicators to highlight negatives while omitting the positives such as annual revenue from the federal government.

“The town said they did not know what the future tax rates would be under amalgamation, or whether the level of service would change,” Scott said.

Scott said that while residents were debating the future of the town, an international geothermal conference in Montreal was touting the community’s expansive geothermal resource.

“Springhill is rich in geothermal energy and well positioned to leverage this resource, but our town’s representatives dismissed this and did not seem to appreciate this very positive asset,” Scott said.

Scott said officials have estimated the value of geothermal energy to be in the vicinity of $7 million a year based on the current price of natural gas. He wants to know why the town is willing to lose this potential energy resource when others are seeing the tremendous opportunity it has.

Scott said two chartered accountants working for the citizens committee have different and opposing views to the town’s regarding its financial situation. He said the town has balanced its books five out of the last six years and reduced its long-term debt by $1.4 million over two years.

“What had gone so terribly wrong with this year’s town finances?” Scott asked.

Twitter: @ADNdarrell

Organizations: Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board

Geographic location: Nova Scotia, Montreal

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Recent comments

  • Dave
    May 22, 2014 - 05:55

    As a citizen of the county I'm not sure amalgamation is the answer! What are the people of the county going to get out of this deal! A skating rink that is about a half hour drive for at least 80% of the people in the county. I thought one of the articles I read said that 50% of the people have not paid their taxes, sounds like a good deal for the county!!! I"m not sure why some of the county councillors want this so bad.

    • Jay Boss
      June 12, 2014 - 18:25

      Because the county wants the Geothermal mines that are worth tons of millions. Its not about a rink.

  • Citizen
    May 21, 2014 - 20:20

    Sound like good old Murray may be trying to make a come back in politics.If he is so concerned then why did he jump ship?????

  • Mark Rushton
    May 21, 2014 - 18:39

    Here we go with the usual Conservative / Liberal hate festival. If Springhill has a problem, it's that people are unable to put aside their suspicions of one another based on historic (genetic?) party hatred in order to work together for the good of the town. Perhaps it's having Scott as the 'face' of this group is in error - but this is a political issue and a political animal such as he certainly is useful in the process. Is there anyone else in town willing to step up and take a leadership role on this? There is no nefarious underhanded purpose in the simple request that citizens have been making: give us the information, the hard numbers, the reasons for the decision to seek amalgamation. Springhill Town Council made a huge error in springing this decision on the populace only two months after an article appeared in the press with the Mayor touting blue skies and happy days ahead. Providing the facts and bringing the matter to the people of Springhill for input and a democratic decision on something as important as dissolving the Town charter should have been the first step. Too bad little political fanatics on both sides can't find common ground.

    • more of the same
      May 21, 2014 - 21:58

      There is no political party or personal hate , however, the issues are allowed to be discussed . Everyone has an opinion .Actually the hate is against high debt , high taxes , bad roads, declining tax base, high town administration costs, huge bad debt ( uncollectable taxes), no business start up incentives , low property values ,false pie in the sky promises , and many more structural problems here ....Max ,the TC ,County, and Province are fixing this disaster as best can be done in a co-operative sustainable manner . Why don't you and your group join in a positive manner ?

    • Mark Rushton
      May 22, 2014 - 12:44

      "more of the same": 'my group' ? I belong to no group. This is the problem - people are assuming anyone who has an opinion on this issue is in one 'camp' or another. I'm neither for nor against amalgamation - I couldn't make a decision anyway, given the lack of information at hand. I've not accused the Mayor, nor Council of being dishonest or incapable - but I have a definite opinion (stated above) regarding their handling of this situation.

    • more of the same
      May 22, 2014 - 17:28

      You read the power point presentation from the Town didn't you ? Did that help you in making a hypothetical decision given that your main hold up was lack of information ?

  • Citizen Joe
    May 21, 2014 - 11:57

    I think Murray and some of the others that spoke at the meeting, should have acted like a responsible citizen and controlled their emotions. What took place at that meeting was a large form of bullying and intimidation. Nearly everyone that came to the microphone had high incomes and not once did they mention the 30 to 40% seniors and their low incomes. A number of them don't contribute to the town taxes. It was previous councils that accumulated the high debt, not present Council, yet this group applauded the previous Mayor. If you read the recent newspaper article from the Govt. Minister he said that during most elections the sitting Mayor does not bring up finances for the fear of not getting elected, why didn't our last Mayor inform people of this debt. If you look at the projected figures published in the Newspaper a couple days ago it was forecasted that we would be out of debt during the 1920/20 fiscal year, if we proceeded on this route we are going. As it is now, I understand that the tax rate would have to go up $0.59 for both Residential and Businesses and I also heard that if it did, at least 2 businesses would close their doors. So Murray get your group and drive people and businesses out of Town with your self-centered views. Everyone will know the true picture of the finances, once the Province has done their audit, why not wait for this before doing any more interviews

    • more of the same
      May 21, 2014 - 13:20

      The two business that would close , would they be the battery and plastic business ?The Power Point Presentation shows the tiny Springhill Business assessment is shrinking quickly . The town tax rate is presently very high so the large needed increase in rates would be bad . ...Companies looking for Geothermal opportunities are not stupid . They look for governmental friendly locations ... They want tax consessions and grants .. Not out of the roof high tax regimes . Springhill Geothermal is hampered by a broke Provincial Gov that won't help and a broke Town that can't help .....Amalgamation will assist geothermal development with lowered taxes and the County money they budgeted for Geothermal .....Time for this Committee to change its mind ; support Amalganation and stop wasting more public time and money to keep a failed scheme ... So if the Committee and Scot are really interested in promoting Geothermal then support Amalgamation . That would send the right signal to potential Geothermal Companies otherwise your high taxes will keep them away..

  • more of the same
    May 21, 2014 - 11:57

    When reminded in 1999 election that the Tories had run up about a 7 billion provincial debt in the past that John Savage was saddled with ; former town cop Scot said that he wasn't worried about the past , only worried about the future . Never heard a peep out of him about responsible financial control while his government practically doubled that Provincial debt and placed NS in dire straits . ...Same election he was telling voters he felt a Tory Gov could get the HRM Metro Jail built in Springhill . The other candidates told him this was a false hope he was spreading .. ...Voters naively naively bought that line of folly.....His last election after years of power in office and not getting the dialapated county jail replaced he was selling what amounted to an election promise of building the county jail in Springhill ...Another failed promise ......There is an honest Mayor in Springhill fixing the fiscal nightmare there .It looks like the town has an 8 million $ debt , one million $ annual deficit and about to be nailed with an extra 2 million $ special police related charge Mr Scot just seems desperate as the policing needs restructured into a more affordable model and has come up with a new pie in the sky line it seems with this Geothermal Mirage ...Where was all this fantastic Geothermal Development when the Tories were wrecking the Province with Billions of dollars of debt ..It is too little and too late . Whining about no information is redundant now that the town has released it's 65 page power point presentation yesterday ....The power point is well done and easily read and understood ..Hopefully the ADN can get it reproduced . This is based on my opinion and recollection ...

    • Jay
      June 12, 2014 - 18:53

      More of the same, you sir are a tool. It is not about amalgamation for and against, its about the people having the right to vote and not be led by dictators. You were probably for Hitler and his ways also. Go away and bury your head because you clearly do not know what democracy is.

  • Doug.P
    May 21, 2014 - 09:02

    Whats the rush to join the county? The same rush when a broke gold digger is on the hunt for a rich old man. When you are broke you find some one with money and sweet talk them out of their common senses.