The Pictou County Chamber of Commerce believes that the municipal governance model for the county needs to be reviewed and that the first step should be an objective study.
We think it is intuitive that having over 40 municipal politicians and six separate municipal structures providing services to a population of approximately 46,000 people cannot be efficient. This would mean that the citizens of the county are paying too much for the services that are being provided.
However, there is simply no current data available to support or disprove this position.
We do know that Pictou County has major issues in setting priorities and communicating them to other levels of government. We believe that over time this has damaged our competitive position and delayed the implementation of valuable projects such as the Wellness Center.
We are encouraged that the provincial government has offered to fund a governance study. We are also pleased that the municipalities seem to support the concept.
However, all parties seem to agree that the scope of the study proposed by the municipalities will require significantly more money than the Province has on the table.
We have concerns that in today’s economic climate it is more likely that the existing offer will be withdrawn than significantly increased.
It is our position that the scope of the study should be revised to keep it under the current funding offer and at least determine how the status quo compares to the most efficient governance model currently implemented in communities of similar size and configuration. By efficient we mean how effectively the taxpayer’s money is used to provide necessary municipal services to the community.
While the more limited scope may not provide all of the information needed to determine exactly what changes need to be implemented it would move the process forward and firmly establish if there is a need for change or not.
We believe there is no chance that the recommendations of this study will be implemented without the support of the citizens of the county. If the facts presented in the study do not convince the people of the need for a change it simply will not happen.
We have discussed this initiative with the leaders of all the political parties and none of them have any inclination what so ever to force a change no matter how compelling the case.
We are convinced that any initiative to spend the tax dollars more effectively will help to fend off future tax increases, not cause them.
President of the Pictou County Chamber of Commerce