Will our tax bill be a lot higher next year?

Published on July 25, 2014

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