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Friday, October 7, 2022

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County Looks to One Municipality for Future
Bill Martin
/ Categories: News

County Looks to One Municipality for Future

If Cumberland Council agrees with a consultant’s recommendation, Springhill could become the seat of municipal government.

The Cox and Palmer report was tabled at today’s county council meeting. Known as the “Clear the Decks” project, the goal was to rethink Cumberland as One Municipality rather than the municipality with two former towns.

The report addresses concern that Cumberland never did appreciate all the ramifications of the dissolution of the two towns — Springhill and Parrsboro. Folding those communities into a rural structure presented many challenges that were made more so by changing times and greater demands from taxpayers and senior levels of government.

Council was concerned there were three municipal service centres, multiple public works facilities, three independent water systems, and worse, the perception of three separate municipalities.

Sensing the One Municipality concept would lead to efficiency and more effective services in a more fair and modern municipal unit, council commissioned the study to clear all past thinking and design a plan that would allow Cumberland to better serve its residents and taxpayers.

Mayor Murray Scott says, “If we were ever going to be successful, we needed to stop being the municipalities of Cumberland and become the Municipality of Cumberland.” Scott added, “This review lays the foundation for that transformation.”

Kevin Latimer, the chief author of the report, walked council through the study and its ten, broad recommendations and three conclusions.

Latimer says the current Springhill service centre should serve as the municipality’s central administration building, home to the Chief Administrative Officer and the senior management staff.

The report suggests the service centre in Upper Nappan should be re-purposed for administrative staff and the public face of the county administration.

A recently refurbished service centre in Parrsboro should be replaced by a storefront office.

The report also calls for a similar storefront presence in Pugwash which presently relies on the Village of Pugwash to be the local political focus.

The report suggests a consolidated senior management team coalesce around the CAO in Springhill. A change in the organizational structure should focus on the end users — citizens and municipal employees.

Referring to taxes, the report suggests fairness among taxpayers. There should be a rural tax rate for the basic services and a suburban tax rate for those who receive a higher level of service.

The report also suggests sweeping changes in bylaws to ensure that they are consistent across the county. The county began addressing that recently and tonight began the process to create a single water utility to replace the three independent utilities in Parrsboro, Springhill, and Pugwash. The plan calls for one water utility with the same rates and metred consumption.

Latimer said, “The result of this One Municipality effort will be service delivery standards that are understood across the Municipality.” He added, “Regardless of where you live in Cumberland County, residents will receive timely and predictable access to municipal administration and public works and engineering services. Cumberland will have a plan for the future.”

Council accepted the report and referred it to Greg Herrett, the county’s CAO, to study with staff and comeback with details on how the county can make best use of the recommendations. Council wants to deal with the plan in January.

Mayor Murray Scott will be a guest on Thursday’s Morning Talk on Six Rivers Radio to discuss the One Municipality. Listen at 9:05.

The photo shows Kevin Latimer —left— addressing council on the One Municipality report.

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