WESTVILLE – A decision on the governance study is in the forefront, Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations Mark Furey said on Tuesday, following meetings with all six Pictou County municipalities.
Minister Mark Furey, left, met with Westville and the five other Pictou County municipalities on Tuesday. He is pictured here with Westville Mayor Roger MacKay. AMANDA JESS – THE NEWS
Over the past few months, the government has been reviewing the terms of reference. Furey said there are inconsistencies between what he heard in discussions and the actual document.
They need to go back and revisit both the terms and the original intent, he said.
“I’ve had some very valuable discussions today with each of the six municipalities. The sheer volume of information that was provided is going to necessitate me actually stepping back and having a look at the governance study’s terms of reference, and evaluate the information that was provided today in the many discussions we’ve had and give that some focused attention.”
He’s hoping to have a decision within the next few weeks.
The municipalities committed to funding $25,000 each towards the $300,000 study last year.
They’re looking at six options at least presented in the terms of reference.
Furey won’t force any model of government on a municipality, he said.
“We will support municipalities in their efforts as they move forward with the model of government that they believe is in the best interest of their communities.”
Westville Mayor Roger MacKay has been pushing for amalgamation for five years. Deputy Mayor Lennie White has also been vocal in his support for it.
“It’s to the point where we’ve all got to work together as municipal elected officials.” MacKay said.
Westville isn’t in trouble yet, but they are looking to attract more businesses for their commercial tax base and trying to get away from relying on their residential tax rate, one of the highest in the province, he said.
Their rate is $2.08 per $100 of assessment value, comparable to Springhill’s rate of $2.25. Springhill cited their finances, including high property taxes, as the reasoning behind their vote last week to dissolve the town.
“The economy of Nova Scotia is struggling. Not only in Pictou County,” MacKay said. “We’ve got to make a decision about what’s best for our taxpayer which we’ve been elected for. We’ve got to look at the options that are out there.”
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