Village of Baddeck's move to dissolve raises questions about finances, future
Baddeck village commission wants to become part of Victoria County
The Village of Baddeck's move to dissolve and join with the surrounding County of Victoria has raised questions with no immediate answers.
For one, what is the state of the Nova Scotia village's finances?
"One of the particular points to review in terms of noting their finances is their financial statements. And the commission hasn't filed a financial statement because of its circumstances in the last two years," said Mark Peck, associate deputy minister with the Department of Municipal Affairs and Housing.
The commissioners for the 113-year-old village began seriously considering dissolution last year, saying they had been discussing the high cost of providing sewer and water services with aging infrastructure, and might have to consider hiking taxes and fees.
The village's chief administrative officer later proposed a plan to cut costs by taking over the sewer and water accounts from the county. But earlier this year, she was let go and retired CAO Maris Freimanis was brought in to straighten out the finances.
General account 'depleted,' says CAO
In an interview Monday with CBC Radio's Information Morning Cape Breton, Freimanis said there have been no audits performed over the past two years, and tax and water bills have been delayed.
Freimanis said he couldn't explain why that is, because it involves personnel issues. But he did say the village's financial situation is a matter of "quite a lot of concern."
"Basically, the general account currently now is depleted," he said.
"The tax bills that went out recently should restore some funds into that account. But really, it's going to be very difficult to make it to the end of the year with the general account."
Freimanis said a key problem is that Baddeck only has one administrative employee, which is not sufficient to run the village, and there are no funds to hire more people.
"And certainly I don't think increasing the area rate for taxes is going to provide a viable solution there," he said.
That raises the question of whether Victoria County and its taxpayers will want to take on the obligations of the Village of Baddeck.
"Ah, tough one," said Peck. "I know the county is well aware of the situation. And no doubt that council and staff are keeping in mind ... what the implications could be."
Baddeck residents will have their say on whether they want to dissolve the village at a community meeting on Dec. 2.
Pending the outcome of that vote, the commission will then submit a request to the minister.
With files from CBC Radio's Information Morning Cape Breton