Should we entertain talks about consolidation… Yes! Does it mean we have to do it??? NO!!!
First, people need to know the difference between consolidation and amalgamation. With the consolidation, the municipal units have complete control over how it would work. The units set the guiding principles, they decide what it would look like. Check out the model Windsor/ West Hants used to create one unit.
Amalgamation occurs when a unit can no longer carry on due to debt loads and being unable to collect enough taxes to pay their bills and meet the needs of their residents. The province steps in and forces communities to amalgamate. WE DO NOT WANT THIS TO HAPPEN HERE!
Fortunately, all three municipal units in the area are in great shape financially. Check out their audited statements. Don’t believe in rumours, look at the information shared on the websites.
Why do we need to consider what this might look like? We have issues with our governance model on regional assets. We meet as three units, everyone agrees on something but final decisions cannot be made at that time. We go back to our council tables and everything agreed upon goes out the window and we end up no where. We have a lot of shared services which is wonderful but when contracts have to be renewed, there will be conflict as to who pays what. There is no trust among the units and the discussion becomes negative and nothing gets done. This has to change for the prosperity of the region.
Everyone is fearful that taxes will go up and that just isn’t the case when you create your our guiding principles. Here is WWH principle
“When developing a taxation model for the consolidated community, the existing tax system should serve as a base. Business as usual, services as usual. The electoral boundaries should not impact taxation”
How about… we do not want to take on another units debt:
When addressing debt from the former communities, area rates should be used to ensure the repayment of the debt is paid in the spirit it was incurred. By way of example, if the debt was incurred for the benefit of the taxpayers in Windsor, the debt should be area rated to the tax payers of Windsor.
I have heard that people are afraid of losing their community’s identity. There is no reason for that to occur. Finally, what would districts look like:
When looking at boundaries, ensure equitable representation for both urban and rural communities for the new council. It is essential that the culture and identities of both the urban and rural communities are retained in the new consolidated community.
Have things gone wrong in some of the regions when they amalgamated, yes they have but lessons have been learned and we have a chance to see if consolidation would work for us. I know people are fearful of change.
What we have now, isn’t working. What harm could it do to sit down and see what it could look like? Design a model, bring it to the public and get feedback. Look at the positives and negatives. It is all about compromise. If there is no advantage to our residents then councillors would never agree.
Keep an open mind, that’s my philosophy!
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Thanks for your support, Vote Patti Durkee for enthusiastic, positive, engagement. Experience helps!