An information session for residents was held on June 19th ,2023 at Foursquare Baptist church , Long Reach. Those in attendance were briefed by the advisory committee on amalgamation and its impact on the community. More sessions are planned. Stay tuned.
New council for Fundy Rural District
When the Fundy Rural District was formed on January 1 2023, an advisory council was supposed to be in place following November elections. No one ran for the 2 seats in Ward 2 so the government asked residents of the ward to apply for the two vacant positions on the council.. Applications were submitted before the deadline of Dec 20th 2022 and several qualified applicants stepped forward. In mid February, the government appointed the final representative. As a result, we now have 4 members with the addition of Rob Jeffery and Gina Sweet. Ray Riddell was elected chair and sits on the Regional Service commission. Decisions have already been made by the minister on budgets without any input from residents. These decisions will result in huge increases in property tax. The minister stated he wanted to bring democracy to the Rural Districts. He has now replaced 20 elected members with 2 elected and two government appointments.
Budget items you Need to Know
What is a Rural district?
Mark your calendar
Election results November 28th
From 6,421 residents only three residents stepped up. Ray Riddell was acclaimed in what remains of LSD Westfield West and East, Bruce Dryer was elected in ward 1 ( former LSDs of Greenwich and Petersville) and no one stepped up for two seats in Ward 2 . So the minister appointed two residents to sit on the new advisory council along with Ray and Bruce. Rob Jeffery and Gina Sweet were selected by the minister to fill these seats on the council.
Facts on Fundy Rural District
The Fundy Rural District was created on January 1 2023.
The population of the Fundy Rural District is 6,412 ( compare to Grand Bay-Westfield of 5,866).
Our tax base will be $603.092,900 ( the province controls property assessment and assessed an 11% increase in 2022).
There will be no mayor or council. Two residents were elected as one half of an advisory committee on November 28th. 2 others have been appointed by the government.
The advisory committee will have no power! One member will be able to participate in decisions of the Regional Service Commission and try to control expenditures due to new mandated services.
The budget for the Regional Service Commission has been dictated to the Regional Service Commission without representation from the residents of the affected communities. Massive increases in property tax are expected.
The minister has made all decisions on the new budget for the Fundy Rural District. RSC members had rejected this budget.
New member fees to be paid by the Fundy Rural District to the Fundy Regional service commission will be $781,529 ( compared to Grand Bay-Westfield of $292,721)
Last year's member fees for four LSDs in the community were $135.689 total
The minister has ordered the Fundy Rural district to pay to the Regional Service Commission $ 254,011 for land use planning ( bylaws, zoning etc.). The commission considers planning for this district a low priority and no plan will be in place this year nor maybe next year. A large part of funding we pay will not be spent on planning but will be allocated to salaries instead.
The LSD of Westfield West has already paid $120,872 for planning over the last five years with no plan ever produced. . That money was diverted to salaries of the Commission.
The minister has ordered the Fundy Rural District to pay $127,999 to a company called Envision for tourist promotion and economic development primarily in Saint John.
The minister's contract with Envision avoids the government paying $250,000 to Envision. That $250,000 cost is now passed on from the province to the Fundy Rural District and Fundy St. Martins.
The minister has dictated budgets to the Regional Service commission and to the Fundy Rural District and to the new entity Fundy St. Martins. No input from residents or members of the Regional Service commission. Huge property tax increases are the result. The Minister is hoping that residents will hold town councils and the Regional Service commissions to blame.
new committees formed
In order to manage new mandates the RSC has formed several new committees.
Community Development Committee 7 members NONE from Fundy Rural district
Regional Transportation Committee 8 members NONE from Fundy Rural District
Public Safety Committee 13 members Dave McCready fire chief from Fundy Rural District
Regional Facilities Committee 9 members NONE from Fundy Rural District
The New Brunswick government is pushing ahead with municipal amalgamations in spite of warnings from a chorus of experts that merging local governments leads to higher costs and often, to higher taxes.
“All of the [academic] work on municipal amalgamation has demonstrated that it does not save money,” says Jack Novack, professor of local government at Dalhousie University.
A 2015 report on the growing movement for de-amalgamation in Canada, commissioned by the right-wing Fraser Institute, sums up what it sees as the disadvantages of amalgamation:
Although nearly every province in Canada has pursued some form of local restructuring over the past 25 years, municipal amalgamation remains a controversial subject. A vast amount of research has found that consolidation fails to produce promised cost savings, rarely leads to more efficient service delivery, and reduces the ability of citizens to be involved in the life of their local governments. It is no surprise, then, that local restructuring proposals have often been met with stiff resistance from local residents. It also comes as no surprise that many residents argue that their communities were better off prior to amalgamation.
One of the Fraser report’s authors, Zachary Spicer of Brock University, also co-authored a commentary for the C.D. Howe Institute that cites numerous other academic studies:
Municipal amalgamation, in fact, produces few economies of scale, as many studies have shown (see, for example, Byrnes and Dollery 2002; Hirsch 1959; Bird and Slack 1993; Found 2012). Rather, costs generally increase after amalgamation, despite repeated assertions that larger units of local government will result in cost savings (Blom-Hansen 2010; Dahlberg 2010; Bird 1995; Flyvbjerg 2008; Vojnovic 1998). Aside from an increase in costs, research has also found that amalgamation has not led to municipal service efficiencies (Kushner and Siegel 2005; Found 2012; Moisio, Loikkanen and Oulasvirta 2010).
This morning ( October 19th) , Ray Riddell, attended a meeting of the regional Service Commission on behalf of the LSD where the 9 directors were given a budget by the minister to approve. The budget contained many costs that would bind the Fundy Rural District which has not yet even been created. This budget will affect all of you.
Among the additional costs were:
$257,140 for planning,
$232,752 to pay maintenance and capital costs for 5 buildings in Saint John,
$93.,000 for economic development,
$32,000 for tourism development,
In total, the costs downloaded on to the new Fundy Rural district will be $731,590 (last year, the fees were $141,327 )
The residents of the LSDs in this region have been totally opposed to paying maintenance and capital costs to Saint John buildings.
All directors voted against the budget. Stay tuned.
What can you do?
Nothing. Accept and pay higher taxes for services you do not want or receive
Call or contact Daniel Allain
Call or contact Bill Oliver
Provide your feedback and your concerns in the form to your right