Blue Mountain Ratepayers' Association

Forum on the town/county relationship a good start

Forum on the town/county relationship a good start.

That was the message presented by a team of consultants at a special council meeting at the Beaver Valley Community Centre June 29 attended by about 35 people.

Several of those included representatives from Grey County, including former warden Kevin Eccles, the mayor of West Grey.

“I’m very interested to hear what is said tonight,” he said prior to the meeting.

The Blue Mountains accounts for about 26 per cent of the total tax base of Grey County while comprising only seven per cent of its population. That disparity is one of the reasons why the town’s political influence doesn’t match its fiscal contribution to the county.

For the past year or two, the town has been making noises about considering becoming a single-tier municipality, which would mean revoking its membership in the county.

The consulting team noted that would be a difficult process, requiring provincial approval as well as town and county agreement. That hasn’t happened in recent memory, the two-man team said.

Those consultants spent more than an hour outlining various options the town, and it newly-established task force on its relationship with the county, might consider before the floor was thrown open to questions from the public.

Those options include separating from the county and renegotiating service and taxations levels.

Some of the public questions were more technical in nature, such as how development charges would be affected, while others cut to the heart of the issue.

Paul Mitchell, a former mayoral candidate, was one of those looking at the bigger picture. He noted that 40 per cent of the taxes raised in The Blue Mountains go to Grey County.

“I don’t have a problem with being the cash cow for the county,” he said.

That’s so long as the town is receiving some appropriate services in return, Mitchell added. That’s not the case at the moment, he said.

“I don’t think the county takes us seriously,” he said. “We have to get someone to take us seriously.”

Other audience members said much the same thing. There was a pervasive belief that the county isn’t really listening to the concerns of the north-east part of the county.

“I can tell you the county is listening,” Coun. Michael Martin said in response.

He mentioned the task force, which he is chairing, had just held its first meeting with the county on June 28, and that it was a good initial discussion.

Rod Innes, though, questioned whether there was enough of a factual basis to threaten separation. He questioned whether there “was a problem.”

“I think this is a wonderful initiative, though,” he added.

The work of the task force with the county will continue, and more public consultations sessions may be in the offing.

Posted on June 30, 2017 by tsgiilck in NewsTopUp Front