SPRINGHILL – Less than twenty-four hours after passing a motion to dissolve the town, Springhill council back in chambers to face the public over its decision.
Citizens, town employees and news media from across Atlantic Canada flooded into chambers Wednesday morning to ask questions while Mayor Max Snow, Deputy Mayor Darrell White and Amherst Chief Administrative Office Greg Herrett, who is under contract with Springhill’s municipal government, tried to ease public uncertainty.
The key question everyone wanted to know is why this happened without the public input.
“At this point, a plebiscite doesn’t really change the facts or the decision we made, which we feel is the proper decision,” White said.
“Our operating costs increase while our revenues decrease,” Mayor Snow said. “We can’t continue down this path.”
The town is $5.1 million in debt and its operations is $800,000 over drawn. The current revenue streams don’t allow for that to be paid off. To just maintain the status quo meant a 50-cent tax increase on top of the existing $2.25 of assessed residential property – the second highest tax rate in the province.
“Taxes in the future? We’re anticipating a tax decrease,” White said.
With the motion to dissolve passed, the town will now make application to the Nova Scotia Utility and review Board, seeking approval to become part of the Municipality of Cumberland County in April of next year. If successful, the community would have an elected member sit on the county council.
In the meantime, the mayor and council say they don’t anticipate job losses at any of its departments, but any retirements that take place between now and April 2015 are not expected to be filled.