West Hants Warden Richard Dauphinee
We understand that the ongoing issue with the payment to the Windsor Fire Department has upset many people. This was never our intent. We are pleased that the minister of Service Nova Scotia has offered to assist all parties involved in the appointment of a mediator to help resolve this issue.
The volunteers at the Windsor Fire Department provide exemplary service. They help keep us safe and for 60 years they’ve looked out for the residents of the Municipality of West Hants. We are grateful and fortunate to have such dedicated volunteers who have our best interests at heart.
We too have the best interests of our residents at heart. This is simply and solely an issue of accountability. Who would hand over a cheque for half a million dollars without asking any questions? That is at the very heart of this matter. Council’s decision in favour of ending its long relationship with the Windsor Fire Department is about accountability or lack of it. It’s not about turf. It’s not about personality conflicts. It is about transparency and ensuring the residents of West Hants are paying fair value for the service.
Doing the due diligence around the cost for this service is responsible fiscal management. In fact, it’s so simple; all we need to understand is where our money goes. Our multiple requests for information to help us determine first-hand that there is equity and fairness behind the formula that determines the $500,000 bill have gone unanswered. Our requests to understand why the service costs will increase by approximately $50,000 each year are unexplained.
We understand that the Windsor Fire Department has audited financial statements that are accepted by Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). But CRA is looking to confirm that proper accounting principles are used and money is accounted for but CRA is not looking to confirm that the taxpayers of West Hants are getting a fair deal.
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The bottom line is that we have struggled to obtain simple information about how many calls were made to West Hants, and how much was invested in infrastructure. Any private sector company that provides services would be able to break down the costs for its clients. In fact, their clients demand it. Why should we expect any less from the Windsor Fire Department just because it’s a society?
The municipality and Windsor Fire Department last signed a contract in 2009-2010 for a combined total of $480,000 in funding for both the rural and South West Hants operations. The subsequent contract amounts presented by Windsor Fire Department to the Municipality in 2010 for the next five years are: Year 1 — $513,100; Year 2 — $557,000; Year 3 — $606,000; Year 4 — $657,750; and Year 5 — $677,000, for a five-year total of $3,010,850.
If left unchallenged, by 2015, West Hants taxpayers could potentially give Windsor Fire Department $677,000 for fire service that year and we will have no more information about what is behind those costs than we do today. Would you be prepared to hand over $677,000 a year without knowing how this amount was determined or where the money is going?
Warden Richard Dauphinee