Will our tax bill be a lot higher next year?

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With reference to the application for the dissolution of the Town of Springhill to amalgamate with the Municipality of Cumberland County the big question is who pays for this whole process in addition to the town’s previous debt?

With reference to what Darrell Cole published in the May 23 edition of the local paper: Cumberland  County Warden is hoping a tax study leads to scrapping what he calls an unfair assessment system while Kevin Lacey of the Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation says it’s all about increasing tax revenue for municipal units. It is very obvious to county residents that by scrapping the province’s cap on property assessments, it will be easy to raise taxes.

If I’m not mistaken, Warden Hunter said that he is going to spend $1 million on Springhill geothermal. This is money from the county! When are these decisions being made and how do we become more informed about municipal spending?  

Residents of the county seem to be left out of the loop. The Springhill volunteer citizen committee is working hard to get information for their town residents regarding future tax rates and additional taxes for services and costs for street lights, sidewalks, cross guards, street signs, repairs and water rates, etc.

When we read how the county does business with Joggins Fossil Institute, we take Mr. Trenholm’s comment very seriously when he wished Springhill “good luck and God bless the people of Springhill because if they go into partnership with the county, Springhill won’t be here in another 10 years.”

FYI, there will be an Open House for the residents of Springhill and county on July 16 to provide information and answers to our questions about the amalgamation of Springhill with the county. I understand the location and time for open house will be in the local paper. This is an opportunity for you to get your questions answered at the information booths. The Springhill volunteer citizen committee will also have a booth set up to provide information.

As a county resident and taxpayer, I want to know whether our taxes will increase to cover the costs of the town’s debt and in addition to this, the costs of the lawyers and studies involved in this process for the dissolution.  I understood any studies completed would be charged to the town and county. Will these costs become the burden of the county residents through increased taxes?

Springhill was managing their business up until this past year and the residents were surprised to hear that their town council made application for dissolution without consulting them or calling for a citizen committee early enough to try to resolve their financial problems. If there was a financial problem in March 2014, imagine what this debt will be in April of 2015.

It is our democratic right to receive factual information. We are not prepared to wait and see! The Municipality of Cumberland County is part of this plan for amalgamation. If this happens, they will take control of Springhill’s assets, but will they also take over the debt in April?

Amalgamation can’t be based on declining population. It is a financial problem which I understand was caused by not exercising the use of a tax collector.

In desperation the only solution sought was the dissolution of the town. It is important for the residents of this province to contact their MLAs to make changes in policy. It seems more reasonable for municipalities to share services and human resources to cut expenses. Citizen groups should also have an important role in decision-making. 

This new process would enable residents to keep informed and to have closer communication with their elected representatives. The process used for amalgamation in Nova Scotia does not appear to be working well for the residents especially in Halifax and Sydney. When there needs to be change it is our responsibility to communicate this to our government. We live in a democracy and that means government by the people and for the people.

Marilyn Thompson, Upper Nappan

Organizations: Joggins Fossil Institute

Geographic location: Cumberland County, Nova Scotia, Halifax Sydney

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Recent comments

  • Citizen Joe
    September 11, 2014 - 16:53

    Marilyn should go and enjoy life in the County. I understand her and the County have a 50-50 Agreement, she don't want them and they don't want her. Enjoy your $1.04 tax rate compared to Springhill's $2.25 plus the cost of garbage collection

  • Jim G
    August 02, 2014 - 03:05

    Correction on Wien. Should be spelled Wynne. My apologies to everyone including Ms. Wynne.

  • Jim G
    July 30, 2014 - 10:52

    This is a multilayer problem. We can either begin at the top where the problems start or go to the end result which is where Springhill is right now, a bankrupt town. Trudeau back in the late 1960's brought in policies that encouraged higher taxes and more spending and more reliance on government. These policies have around now for 35 years. The maritimes was directed a lot of government spending to prop up companies, fund unemployment, provide financial assistance on many things. This financial support came at the wrong time as the maritimes economy was becoming stronger. In effect all these handouts killed off the economic growth and future prosperity in the region. Not sure what the goal was here. Was it so Liberals could get federal votes? Could be and it has for the most part worked. It could have been to sabotage the region so Ontario could remain the engine of Canada's economy. It was a threat at that time. Trudeau also killed the economy in the west in the early 1980's with the National Energy Program. This set back the western provinces economically for years and older people in the west will never forgive the Liberals for doing this. Ontario was in the driver's seat until the 1990s until certain special interest groups had so much political influence that they managed to get the Rae NDP voted in. This was the beginning of the end for Ontario. Harris tried to rein in the special interest groups but Ontario fell back to the McGinty and now the Wien governments. This move will finish off Ontario economically. Back to Springhill. The provincial government has been stuck in the tax and spend mode since Trudeau started the process in the 1960's federally. The political thinking that you tax everyone and fund all companies to create economic growth has been a failure but governments continue the same strategies. The result is all the small towns in the province are suffering. Halifax draws young people because there is work there. The transfer payments from the federal government all flow to Halifax to be spent where politians deem it should be spent. This is the only reason that Halifax appears prosperous. Many job creating economic activities are generated by construction and and government employment from federal transfer payments. The immigration of young people from small towns creates more economic activity. The small towns are left in the cold with no way to generate economic growth. Springhill has a prison funded by government which is a source of jobs. What else? Manufacturing, mining, forestry? No. You need a source of jobs for people to start moving into town. If someone in Canada could get a $100,000 job in Springhill they would move there the next day. If there were 10 jobs at that rate then 10 people would move in. Industry has to be drawn to the small towns which will generate tax revenues to fund the services. Tax and spend will not do it. The various levels of government need to provide industry with a 50 year 0% tax rate. This will get industry in. An infrastructure to facilitate this is also needed. The benefits of economic growth will be that young people will be able to stay in the town they grew up in if they so choose. The downside is the resentment well to do people will have when new people move in to town. Maybe this can be overcome. Some great person or group have to overcome all the status quo in bedded in the province to somehow change the tax and spend regimes of the past. Who will it be?

  • Citizen Joe
    July 27, 2014 - 15:00

    I am not sure the writer has enough of the true facts regarding the dissolving of Springhill. we have the luxury of having four financial experts, Greg Herrett, Harold Delaney, Darrell White and John Boyle, plus experts from Government. They are all saying the same thing, this didn't happen overnight, that Springhill needs help and we must do it now. The County has agreed to help Springhill, because they too would benefit in time. They will be able to extend serer and water to the outlying areas, thus creating revenue. The Concerned Citizens only concern was to save the police dept. and not what is good for everyone which includes the Seniors and low income families. The Town and County made a decision to replace the police dept. on April 1, 2015 regardless of dissolving. Now the focus of the Concerned Citizen's is to harrass the Town Council members in hopes they will resign and thus force another election, where the Concerned Citizens would come out and vote to put their own people in and thus over turn everything done so far. It is too late for that and the process is moving along quickly with the Government appointing a lawyer, CEO for Springhill, a Tax Specialist, a Auditing Company, plus other groups doing Studies on the roads, sewer, Water, Water treatment plant, Sewage treatment plant, Town owned equipment and buildings, Town employees and so on. With amalgamation the employees can work in the Community or County, thus gaining experience and job security. Any costs for this will not be passed on to the County. Springhill will save quite a bit by removing duplicate services such as CAO, Engineer, Building Inspectors, Works Supervisor, Police with RCMP, and so on. I suggest all those Concerned Citizens to wait for the Studies to be completed, which are being done by experts. Oh one final comment, the writer came to the first meeting on May 15th and was complaining about the sidewalk near the Cumberland Regional Hospital , now she is on a different subject, sorry cannot connect the dots.

  • more of the same
    July 25, 2014 - 10:58

    Nice to see someone from the County in this discussion . The Springhill debt is technically going to be paid by Springhill ratepayers via an area rate . However, they can't pay their debt and pay for their services so the County rate payers will be charged for most of the cost of running the former Town . It will be an accounting shell game where Springhillers complain about paying their debt while the County folk actually do the paying .. The amalgamation is necessary as despite 60 years of special favours to Springhill by various governments , they still can't run their affairs . They overspend in such items as policing , dept. head empires and sloppy management ...While being incompetent on the spending they have the worst record by far in the Province of paying their taxes ...The County administration will give much better administration of the Springhill area , the Province will fix their pathetic streets and tax rates will be lower ...Lower commercial tax rates will be especially beneficial for job creation .....The sooner changes are made the better ..