MOU officially signed by New Glasgow, Pictou and Municipality of Pictou County

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Three of the six municipalities in Pictou County are officially part of a memorandum of understanding that could see the communities become more unified.

From left: Pictou County Warden Ron Baillie, New Glasgow Mayor Barrie MacMillan and Pictou Mayor Joe Hawes sign the MOU.

The memorandum was signed this morning at the Pictou County Wellness Centre, with representatives of the town of New Glasgow, Pictou and Municipality of Pictou County all present.

Westville, Trenton and Stellarton all will have a chance to participate if they choose.

According to the technical briefing provided at the press conference, the objective of the MOU is to advance the common views on municipal reform held by the municipalities. Under the framework the municipalities will establish a work plan that includes a study on governance and administration as well as the capital and operational requirements of regional government.

If the preconditions are met, then the MOU will serve as a blueprint for the implementation of a regional government. 

Warden Ron Baillie said the timeline they’ve set for that at the moment is 2016 when the next municipal elections will be held, but that may change once the study gets underway and they have a better understanding what they have to deal with.

It would mean that many council positions would be eliminated.

“We know we’re putting ourselves out of business, but we’re doing it for the right reason,” Pictou Mayor Joe Hawes said.

New Glasgow Mayor Barrie MacMillan called the event monumental.

“Our region needs a hard, hard reset as we work towards building a vibrant and prosperous future for our citizens and business as well as ensuring we have a strong quality of place in attracting new citizens and investment to our region,” he said.

He said that Pictou County needs to think and act as a region in order to achieve success and provide the residents here the services they expect.

“Everybody knows there is only one taxpayer, no matter which order of government is providing services,” he said.

 The three units that signed up account for 75 per cent of the region’s population and 82 per cent of the tax assessment base and it was clear that they would be going ahead with the MOU even if the other municipalities decline to take part.

“Our hope is that all the other municipalities will recognize this need for transformational change and consider joining the MOU,” MacMillan said.

Warden Baillie said the issue of regional governance is complex and admitted they don’t have all the answers right now, but did offer some insight into what some of the components would be. All of which would have to be approved by the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board.

One of the key components is a user pay model of taxation.

“Citizens should pay taxes that reflect the services provided to them or used in the geographic area in which they live,” he said.

One of the conditions the Municipality set was that there would be no material change to the current general residential tax rate for property owners.

Another stipulation in the agreement is that there will be no decrease in the service levels.

All pre-existing debts and deficits will be maintained as a financial burden of the former municipal unit and pre existing reserves at the time of implementation of regional government will be maintained or utilized for the benefit of the former municipal unit.

A regional council would be based on equal polling districts representing communities of interest.

Organizations: Pictou County Wellness Centre

Geographic location: New Glasgow, Pictou County, Stellarton

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Recent comments

  • An Observer
    August 25, 2014 - 09:44

    Very well done! Congrats to municipal leaders representing 75% of the Pictou County population for their intelligence, courage and perseverance. This well constructed approach is the type of progress sorely lacking and badly needed. I hope to hear the other towns join quickly and hope their residents will make their opinions known to their leaders. Very pleased to see The News is endorsing the involvement of all units as well. Nothing wrong with being interested in the details - but the uninformed/unsupported bashers are the poster children for what has been hampering Pictou County. Time for something different and better. We need it.

  • johnny smoke
    August 23, 2014 - 10:32

    Looking at the town of New Glasgow budget summary and the protective services (police) costs of almost $4.3 million dollars I am amazed as to why any of the other towns would even consider an amalgamation. If anyone even remotely thinks that any of these costs will diminish they had better think again.

    • One voice....
      August 24, 2014 - 06:45

      Thank you Johnny Smoke!! I agree 100%. I think basically the people of Pictou County have been sold a story of what they want to hear and that is what they have decided to hear and believe Lock Stock and Barrel. I think it's sad, because the people of this county (in the end) are going to have learn the hard way.....the town of New Glasgow hasn't changed, they're in this for themselves and not for the good of the County. Guaranteed!

    • Amalgamation in the future
      August 24, 2014 - 10:52

      Policing and 1st responder agencies costs will go up regardless...but there is no need of 4 police forces/fire departments..The proposal will be a New Glasgow Regional and a Pictou Co. RCMPOLICE model. Much like Halifax. H Div Nova Scotia RCMP are one of the best managed police providers in the country ..Westville ,Stellarton and Trenton municipal politicians will eventually come on board the question is when and how forward thinking they are with RISK management .Loss of jobs and depopulation are major issues here much like CBRM.What have they got to lose...they are loseing tax bases now.Time to take the gamble and look to the future.

  • Trenton resident
    August 23, 2014 - 08:12

    Greats NEWS! IT is time to plan for the future..we need a new mindset in the county with an emphasis on cooperation ..not isolated pockets of tunnel vision and protectionalism of turfdoms,wasting money on duplication of services.Thank You this is refreshing to see.

  • ralph dejohn
    August 22, 2014 - 19:37

    now also get rid of all the town police and bring in the RCMP.

  • Just One Voice
    August 22, 2014 - 17:22

    LOL

    • Changes are needed
      August 24, 2014 - 10:57

      JUST one Voice ..LOL maybe ,but you will see an increased RCMP presence in the greater Pictou area,as in Halifax where the 2 police force model is widely accepted by the residents.With access to both Provincial and National resources.

  • excellent news
    August 22, 2014 - 13:24

    A good day for the residents of these 3 municipalities. I hope that the work proceeds toward creation of a single municipal unit for this entire county.

  • not buying this mou
    August 22, 2014 - 13:02

    The fastest way to bring monetary relief to residents and businesses is to lower tax rates. In this MOU it seems that the Municipality of P.Co. is protecting it's lower rates. That is their responsibility for residents and businesses -but where will money come from for these changes? This Mou seems to offer the same deal as the 'governance study' - a study that started out simply enough and was then inflated to study infrastructure needs now and future and other things that have nothing to do with 'governance' - a governance study should be about the structure of council(s) making decisions for this area. I hear that to take part in the MOU each unit will have to pay $25,000 - if this is correct, then aren't we back to the same old thing - the governance study? A word of caution for all units - read Dr. Gordon MacInnis'(UCCB) report on the relationship between New Glasgow and Westville - Westville's costs to operate ran sky high in this arrangement - the proof is that that town took back all departments and is now running successfully on it's own.

    • the facts
      August 25, 2014 - 11:31

      You may not be buying the MOU because of one reason or another but the fact remains that Westville was close to bankruptcy in 1995 when New Glasgow started to provide the Town services, including covering the town financially until 2007 when the Council of the day disrespected the Town feeding them for many years! The costs when the sale of service agreement started in 2007 perhaps reflected the PITA factor.