Frankly Speaking with Frank Likely
Town Council in Springhill decided it would be better to shoot first and answer questions later.
Members of council voted to seek to dissolve the Town and seek amalgamation with the County without any public consultations whatsoever. The decision was made at a special afternoon meeting of the council, and it was the next day before they answered any questions about the move at a press conference.
That doesn`t sit well with me.
Mayor and Council insist that consultations with the public will be held during the dissolution process, but how meaningful can those discussions be. The decision has already been made.
I`ll take the mayor and councillors at their word, and offer a few questions I have about the process to help the consultations along.
1) There was another option available to the town less drastic than amalgamation with the county. That would be to restructure with village status. It reduces the powers of the council but also their responsibilities. Was this option discussed, and if so, why was it dismissed?
2) Will Springhillers pay the same tax rate as other residents of the county, or could there be a special area rate to account for the services available in Springhill but not in other parts of the county?
3) How will the amalgamation of Springhill into the county change the boundaries of the existing county seats. Will a concurrent application from the county to amend its size and boundaries have to accompany the Springhill application to the URB?
By deciding to take action before consultations, the mayor and council have squandered any goodwill there might have been toward responsible change. Now they must regain the peoples' trust that this move is indeed the most responsible one for the community.
They have put themselves on a tightrope of sorts, and must now walk that narrow line between achieving significant tax savings and maintaining a significant level of current services.
These may be unreasonable expectations, but the mayor and council took them on when they decided to act first and answer later.
Frank Likely is a retired Anglican minister and a past president of the Springhill and Area Chamber of Commerce.