Road to recovery to be a painful ride
The economy may be on a slow road to recovery, but don’t expect to feel that in Cumberland County anytime soon.
Both Amherst Mayor Robert Small and Cumberland County Warden Keith Hunter brought messages of doom and gloom to their annual address to the Amherst Rotary Club this week. Neither have any illusions that belt-tightening from the provincial government will have no impact on their municipalities, with a 20 per cent cut to the education department expected to be just the beginning of what is to come.
The county, for example, has been told to expect $1-2 million less in funding from the province this year.
Elsewhere in the province, outlooks are even more grim. One municipality, the Town of Canso, is even applying to the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board for dissolution of its town status in the face of a $136,000 deficit.
The Municipality of Chester recently became the first community in Nova Scotia to apply to shut down its water service, after determining that its water utility plant is just too expensive to run. The Town of Berwick was already forecasting a deficit before its biggest industry and taxpayer, the Larsen’s meat plant, announced it will close in April.
One might expect news to be better in Halifax, the largest city in the Maritimes and the home to 40 per cent of Nova Scotians. Yet the city is spending $13.9 million more than it is bringing in, with capital expenditures like a new downtown convention centre and Canada Games facilities not helping.
With federal stimulus funding set to dry up this year and deficit cutting to begin from Ottawa, expect no relief for hard times all over. It will get worse before it gets better.