West Hants warden explains council’s position with fire services

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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.

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

 

Organizations: Windsor Fire Department, Canada Revenue Agency, Municipality of West Hants

Geographic location: West Hants, Nova Scotia, South West Hants Windsor Fire Department Windsor Hants County

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Recent comments

  • Derek Parker
    May 23, 2014 - 08:51

    I certainly hope that council votes in favour of conciliation talks this morning. It would be the first time in a very long time that they would have listened to the voice of the people. With that being said, for six of the council members, this seems to be going forward only because they have a political gun pointed directly at them and they are now attempting to save themselves. I fear it may be too late for most if not all of them. As all of West Hants has been witness to, and unfortunately as many potential future business investors have been witness to, West Hants Council is a dysfunctional unit and has been for many years. It's my hope that after all the dust settles on the fire department debacle that the issue of accountability is brought forward to council and they will see fit to impose term limits on councillors and the warden position. It will never be a healthy municipal or town governing body for that matter when elected/acclaimed officials are in office for extended periods of time. It seems as if they begin to take on the persona of being above reproach and allow personal feelings to get in the way of sound political decisions. Here's hoping, going forward, that we're able to keep our current fire service and that this becomes a wakeup call to all residents of West Hants. I didn't vote in the last municipal election and because of that I hold myself partly to blame for the current position we are in. Please make sure you vote in the next election, whether it be municipal, town, provincial or federal. If we don't I guess we really shouldn't complain. If any elected official reads this please also consider term limits for both municipal and town officials. If not, as is often the case, the "Ol' Boys Club" will take over and the citizens are the ones left without a voice!

  • Tami
    May 22, 2014 - 22:15

    I think you need to pay what is owing and on a go forward basis negotiate a new contract with specific requirements. I as a tax payer feel I am being held hostage because you cannot sit down and talk like sensible people. It seems like it is the old boy's club with you six...and if one does something you all do it. Figure this out and get it fixed that is what you need to do, you are representing us and we don't want a new fire station(s)! We don't want to pay higher taxes and tripled insurance rates.If you part ways and there is a fire and someone loses a home or a business or god forbid a LIFE. This will be on your heads! Fix this and focus on getting new business, that should be your most important job!!!

  • skeleton
    May 22, 2014 - 19:38

    Maybe the skeletons that are hiding in the closets of the WFD should be made public knowledge to be able to allow everyone to a fair decision. I know first hand that there are lots situations, events, wages, etc that should be looked at...** There are many others that should be looked at more closely as well before the public jumps to conclusions. **Sentence modified to comply with web commenting policy

    • Oh Joy
      May 27, 2014 - 19:33

      If you know what they are then let us know them? If not don't bring it up?

  • Claude O'Hara
    May 22, 2014 - 18:31

    The issue of the fire service is certainly bringing out the best and the worst in our municipal political leaders. Over the past two years this community has witnessed a lack honest debate on any number of issues that go well beyond the current fire service. We are seeing municipal leaders not just disagree with each other , they are becoming resolute in their determination to demonize anyone who dares oppose their views on any issue that comes before each others' council and in turn it is affecting neighbours and families. It's time for leadership, time for reconciliation, time to turn the politics off , put personal pride and public ambition aside and fix this before something tragically irreversible happens!

    • Leah Rissesco
      May 22, 2014 - 22:19

      Thank you for that Mr O'Hara. Just when we are convinced that there must be some giant bubble over our community that does not allow the rest of the free world to see the inequities, the rhetoric, the down right bullying and yes possibly even some things that need a little more legal advice. DIG DEEPER! We beg of you.

  • HLD
    May 22, 2014 - 18:27

    In the interest of "transparency" it would be interesting to find out how many taxpayers dollars were spent on the carefully crafted words here to which Mr. Dauphinee signed his name. They definitely are not those of the Warden.

  • Randy Hussey
    May 22, 2014 - 17:27

    The above statement is correct in the way it is worded, however, what the warden has not mentioned is that council refuses to negotiate with the WFD to resolve these issues. So how can issues be resolved if you refuse to talk. This council has shown repeatedly that they are not interested in talking to the WFD unless there is no longer a paid chief. They don't want to pay for a chief, but the will fund a fire services coordinator. Also they have not done a feasibility study on the new stations which is irresponsible. It's just like the land purchase in Garlands Crossing. They paid $500,000 for a piece of farm land and never had an appraisal done. Before council accuses anyone else of no accountability that should look at themselves. All this council has done and is doing is driving a wedge between our communities. There is no spirit of cooperation. How can you run a government like that. This has been a disaster since it started and council has made impossible to work with them. It's shameful.

    • Citizen
      May 24, 2014 - 21:01

      I've heard this land purchase mentioned many times. Does anyone know who this land belonged to previously? Did the seller have an arms length relationship with all the members of council?

    • Jonathan Swinamer
      May 25, 2014 - 10:19

      Randy that is bang on, so good to see

  • HA
    May 22, 2014 - 17:14

    So now it's only about one thing? What about the seven items they presented to WFD back in the Fall? Are they not important any more or were they just all stall tactics in order to get things in line for your own fire service. BTW, you should talk to your council warden and tell them not to be so vocal in public about buying apparatus for neighboring departments and "getting rid of Windsor". Just a thought.

  • Leah Rissesco
    May 22, 2014 - 15:25

    Are you kidding? The accounting practices of Windsor Fire have been made available to West Hants Council repeatedly. Do not blame others for your inadequacy. Do you not have faith in your staff's ability to deceminate the details? And why is the "emergency" council meeting in camera. You are not negotiating a contract, there are no legal issues at hand and it has nothing to do with employment. Get over yourself.