e-News Bulletin - April 2012
Deputy Warden Jimmy MacAlpine
As you are aware, the UNSM Board completed its first series of regional meetings since the new caucus structure was formed. Five meetings in total took place in Port Hawkesbury, Truro, Town of Yarmouth, District of Lunenburg, and Kentville. The majority of meetings were extremely well attended. Excellent feedback was provided by the membership with respect to the Towns Task Force presentation, the UNSM priorities as well as other items from the floor. I want to thank all of the UNSM members who made the effort to attend these important sessions.
The Province on April 26 released its draft regulations for LED Roadway Lighting. Municipalities and the general public have thirty days to respond. The Province has extended the conversion period from five to seven years. This is a compromise as the UNSM had asked for a ten year conversion period to reduce the stranded asset costs associated with changing out the old high pressure sodium lights. With respect to the stranded asset costs, this issue remains unresolved. The stranded asset costs at this point in time remains at $23 million. These are costs that municipalities will have to pay. I am planning to meet with the Minister of Energy to reiterate UNSM's position that the stranded asset costs should be around $12 million as was previously negotiated. I will ask the Minister of Energy for assistance in negotiating this position with Nova Scotia Power.
The UNSM Spring Workshop is taking place at the Truro Holiday Inn from May 9-11. This year's program is geared towards the upcoming October municipal elections. We have a presentation on utilizing social media as part of your campaign strategy as well as municipal experiences with e-voting. We are also offering a series of breakout sessions on economic development including downtown revitalization strategies, provincial economic spin-offs of the Irving ship building contract, and the Importance of tourism to rural Nova Scotia.
The annual CEO-CAO Forum took place on April 27 at the Atlantica Hotel in Halifax. This session brought together mayors, wardens and CAO's to discuss critical issues impacting municipalities. This year's session is focussed on best practices and leading edge approaches to municipal service delivery. Also on the agenda will be a discussion of ways to fund the new federal infrastructure program. Outcomes of this session will be highlighted in a report and circulated to the membership.
The first Provincial Advocacy Days are taking place on May 2-3 in Halifax where the UNSM Board of Directors will be in Halifax to meet with as many MLA's as possible. These meetings will provide an opportunity to:
- build relationships between provincial and municipal elected officials;
- look at how the Province and municipalities can work together to better serve the interests of all Nova Scotians and to minimize their collective tax burden; and
- build support towards provincial-municipal partnerships on an infrastructure plan and other issues critical to communities.
During these discussions the UNSM Board will convey three key points−we serve the same taxpayer, municipalities are a true order of government, and a focus on municipal-provincial cooperation with respect to infrastructure and other programs that impact communities.
The UNSM, in conjunction with Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations and the AMA, is in the process of developing Municipal Awareness Week to take place in September 2012. The purpose of this project is to generate interest in municipal government leading up to the October 20 elections. By generating more interest we are hoping to encourage a higher voter turnout as well as greater participation on municipal advisory committees. A brochure is currently being developed and will be sent to all municipal elected officials and CAO's which outline various activities your municipality can undertake to promote municipal government in the public school system as well to the general public.
At its May 9 meeting, the UNSM Board will be appointing an Oversight Committee to oversee the establishment of the Municipal Auditor General Office. This will include members from UNSM, AMA and a registered municipal auditor. This committee will be tasked with developing the MAG job description, the overall setup of the office, as well as hiring the MAG.
With the recent federal budget, ACOA has announced that it will provide its regular funding to all Nova Scotia Regional Development Agencies until the end of May. At this deadline, ACOA will announce whether they will continue their regular funding arrangements. We will certainly be watching this issue very closely.
Until next month!