Shared services a positive step toward co-operation

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Whether or not increasing the number of shared services equates to amalgamation of Cumberland County’s five municipal units, it’s a discussion that at least needs to occur.

There are strong opinions on both sides of the amalgamation debate.

Those who support it say the county doesn’t need five elected councils and 30-plus elected officials for 32,000 people. Those who oppose it point to the mess that was the forced marriages in Halifax and Cape Breton as the reason why union cannot work in Cumberland County.

The last 12 months have seen a lot positive moves in the development of shared services among Cumberland’s five municipal units. Amherst recently joined the regional EMO office and Amherst and Cumberland County are in the midst of a study that could lead to a shared corporate/finance department.

These developments are building on what’s becoming an excellent working relationship among our four towns and the county. There is co-operation going on and it’s paying financial benefits to all involved. And it’s a far cry from just a decade ago when all five units seemed to be at each other’s throat for one reason or another.

Cumberland County Warden Keith Hunter may be right when he says the taste for amalgamation is not as sour as it once was. Newly elected councillors aren’t as quick to adopt the parochial turf-protecting mindset that their predecessors had and they appear more open to looking at ways to find efficiencies and save taxpayer dollars.

We still think amalgamation in some form is the long-term solution in Cumberland County. However, at the same time, we don’t any of our municipal leaders to balk at increased service sharing because of the idea it will mean amalgamation.

Taxpayers are demanding better use of their money and that means looking at our neighbours for sharing possibilities. The amalgamation road is something they’ll cross sometime in the future, even if the appetite is not there today.

 

Geographic location: Cumberland County, Halifax, Cape Breton

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Recent comments

  • Rick Brown
    January 10, 2014 - 14:49

    Looking for government to spend wisely and be efficient is the equivalent of opening a university for the advancement of street mugging. You don't want them getting any better at boondoggling than they already are. What a joke. County folk, they are licking their chops, you are not paying 'your fair share' in their books. Shared service also means shared tax rates. And your county representatives are rolling over to serve you up.

  • Doug P
    January 08, 2014 - 17:27

    And really, we have 4 levels of government redundantly taxing away the power of its subordinates. The municipalites are poor due provincil cutbacks, the province is poor thanks to the federal government cuts...There are hundreds of useless agencies and departments at all levels but everyone does not want to bite the hand that feeds. We have way to much government at all levels, but no one will admit it nor serously cut it out. Do we truly need a Department of Indian Affairs? Perhaps the Indians can handle thier own affairs? The money not taken from citizens to pay for vote buying welfarisim would lift the economy overnight.

  • Doug P
    January 08, 2014 - 17:05

    The worst aspect of amalgimation is that in the smaller comunities you know your councilors, often times you know thier familes and vice versa. When they are gone to make way for the super council, replaced by people you never met but for thier pandering for your vote, you will find that a person who dosent know you will find it much easier to raise taxes on you, and will. You are simply a constuient at that point with no real meaningful connection. It's much easier to behave badly to strangers than to family and friends. Once gone, good luck getting this back.

  • Dan Lake
    January 08, 2014 - 15:26

    "It doesn't matter if it leads to amalgamation"???? I guess the audacity to admit it now is in ample supply. So those who don't want it will be forced to go along? Sadly, this is the smoke an mirror aspect of "representative government": your vote only counts if it is inline with what the government wants to do, if it is not, they will do it anyway. Those who oppose Amalgamation have very good reasons ( see HRM ). To have it forced upon them and then told patronizingly "its for your own good", or "it will save money", at some point in the future that never arrives is immoral and wrong. With that being said, conciliatory "discussions" on the matter are nothing more than a means to appear to have honestly listened to those who oppose it, so when the government finally forces it through, those involved can all sleep sound at night. The HRM Amalgamation result should simply answer the question of whether it's any worthy idea at all, but the "true believers" think that only they possess the magic ability to pull the sword from the stone. And, it is the endless stream of true believers that keep bringing bad ideas like this back from the brink of death and forcing them on everyone else. Here it is in a nut shell in regards to political decision making: if you have to use the threat of violence, that government always fundamentally represents, then your not on the right side of the issue at all, you are a bully, otherwise why use the government power to force it? And, appeals to majority rules is simply ignoring the fact that a sizable portion of the voting electorate have had their votes and voices discarded. How is one to believe the obvious hogwash that "their voice counts"? In the end, the truth needs no propaganda, and the correct decision does not need threat of government power to validate it. Bad decisions that result from single minded politicians is not anomalous, it is a given; the want to please the ignorant in hopes for securing precocious electoral deciding votes is their primary basic instinct. Government of the few, by the few, for the few, the rest be damned.