What is the difference between the term consolidation and amalgamation? There is no difference. They mean the same thing.
What is the difference between consolidation and dissolution? Through a dissolution, a municipal unit surrenders its charter and ceases to exist. The assets of the dissolving unit are then absorbed into a neighbouring municipal unit that is willing to accept them. Through consolidation, both municipal units surrender their charters and cease to exist. The assets of both of those units are then consolidated into a new municipal unit.
Is Consolidation being forced on West Hants? Absolutely not. The Special Legislation passed by the Province to consolidate the two municipal units was done at the request of the Councils of the Municipality and the Town of Windsor.
What will this consolidation process do to my tax rate? Will my taxes go up? Tax rates are set each year by Council and are based on services that residents receive. The consolidation process will not increase the tax rate. Currently West Hants residents pay a residential tax rate of approx. $1.01 per $100 of assessment. Included in this rate are costs for policing, schools and the education system, corrections and prisons, and garbage/recycling.
In the communities of Hantsport, Three Mile Plains, and Falmouth, residents pay either an area rate for such things as side walks, street lights and snow removal which is added to their tax bills. There are also costs associated with those residents who use municipal water and sewer. Residents who do not directly receive these services do not pay for them.
If this has nothing to do with taxes why are we consolidating? Consolidation is about much more than tax rates going up or down. It is about the Hants West region having the ability to reinvent itself and move forward as a stronger region. We have so many great things happening in our area such as the twinning of Highway 101, new sports complexes, world class festivals, new developments, incredible trails and roots strong in history and tradition. The potential for the future of our region is endless.
This consolidation will eliminate the red tape that exists between our two competing municipal units and create a unified vision for growth and development and create efficiencies by reducing duplication of services and resources.
The Council of the new municipal unit will be unified, with a focused approach to making decisions for the entire area. The Special Legislation has added the role of Mayor who will be responsible for and accountable to all residents as opposed to the current Warden system.
Who is paying for this process? The Province of Nova Scotia has been very gracious to cover the costs of this consolidation process between the Municipality and the Town of Windsor and have committed to support us moving forward. This will save tax payers from having to fund the amalgamation process through the Utility and Review Board of an estimated $500,000.
We are not hearing about community meetings or receiving any information about what is being discussed. Why? Our Municipality is a very large unit consisting of ten unique districts. We are fortunate that many of our districts have reliable internet, postal service, cell service etc. but others do not. We continue to strive to discover the best mix of delivery methods that guarantees the message is always delivered 100%.
We are using our website, Facebook and Twitter accounts to post information and have arranged several Town Hall meetings in our communities to provide the opportunity for residents to discuss concerns and ask questions about the consolidation.
Your can also contact your Councillor or the Warden at anytime to ask questions or talk about matters that are important to you.
What is a boundary review and how will it affect people in West Hants through consolidation? A boundary review is a study done by an independent third-party organization looking to look at the electoral boundaries of a region. The review will determine which Councillor you will vote for during an election. These boundaries are for electoral purposes only and not used for tax purposes.
Boundary reviews are a vital part of our electoral system as it ensures that every elected official represents the same number of voters. The Municipal Government Act states that each boundary must be within 10% of the average population count of all the boundaries in total. West Hants and Windsor currently have 15 elected representatives total. Through the boundary review, this number could change.
How will debt of each Municipal unit be treated with the consolidation? How the debt burden of the two units is paid moving forward will be a decision of the new Council. It is anticipated that the debts will remain with each unit, however, there is no way to determine the decisions of future Council’s.
Will the rural areas lose their voice? Absolutely not.
The rural areas in West Hants are our backbone and consist of some of our most engaged residents. Council has committed to ensuring the needs of our rural residents are addressed at the Council table through the creation of a committee comprising of both councillors and rural residents.
Will West Hants lose its identity? Through the consolidation process, the charters of both the Municipality and the Town will be dissolved but the communities in our regions will remain. Brooklyn will still be Brooklyn, Falmouth will still be Falmouth, Summerville will still be Summerville, so too will Avondale, Ellershouse, Ardoise, Brooklyn, Three Mile Plains, Center Burlington, Hantsport, Ashdale, Sweets Corner, Windsor, and every other community in our beautiful area. Nobody will lose their identity.