Berwick is polling a random sampling of its citizens to determine if the size of town council needs to be modified.
The exercise is a requirement of the Nova Scotia Utilities and Review Board.
“All municipal units have to do it every eight years,” explained finance director Greg Towne, who is overseeing the project.
In 2006 the town conducted a telephone poll of 25 residents, but for this cycle Towne chose to reach out to respondents via letter mail. A total of 180 surveys were mailed out in mid-May.
Towne said the survey document offers respondents information on the structure and role of council, members’ renumeration and a comparison to four bigger and four smaller municipal units. Berwick council’s current complement of five councilors, deputy mayor and mayor has been in place prior to the 2006 survey. Current annual stipends are set at $16,707 for the mayor; $9,189 for the deputy mayor and $8,354 for each of the remaining five councilors.
The survey information gathered will be tabulated and subsequently reviewed by council in the coming months. Based on the responses, Towne said council will draft a motion to reduce, enlarge or leave the size of council as it is. Council’s decision will go before the UARB, most likely in the fall, at a public hearing. The final decision to make any changes to the size of council rests with the UARB.
“That hearing presents an opportunity for other citizens to weigh-in on the recommendation of council,” pointed out Towne.