Tuesday, April 3, 2012

URB: Downsize Town of Shelburne Council

Residents of Shelburne will elect fewer councillors when they head to the polls in municipal elections this fall. The Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board made a decision on the matter last week. The council will consist of four elected members plus a mayor after the October election. The URB decision was made at the town's request after little interest was displayed during three public meetings on the matter. Eliminating the council positions will result in annual saving of $24-thousand dollars.

NS Finance Minister: Deficit Eliminated Next Year

The Nova Scotia government has tabled a $9.5-billion budget with a projected deficit of $211.2-million for 2012-13. Finance Minister Graham Steele says it means the government will balance its books next year.

Budget Highlights: Personal income tax reductions expected to return $7.5 million to about 78,000 Nova Scotians.

Small business tax rate reduced by half a percentage point from four per cent to 3.5 per cent, saving businesses about $10 million annually.

Overall spending for health care up 2.5 per cent at $3.9 billion. The Province will also close its office in Ottawa with a savings of $500,000 annually.

Queens County Update: $47-M Bypass Project

The province will begin work on the $47-million dollar Port Mouton-Port Joli bypass this summer. A total of four bridges will either be replaced or constructed in the bypass area in preparation for the project. Department of Transportation Arena Manager Matt Covey says the "Wagner Bridge" and "Pawn Bridge" in the Port Mouton area will be replaced in the coming months. They are actively used and traffic delays should be expected when work begins. Covey says the province will spend $8 million dollar on the project this year with the remaining costs spread out over the next two fiscal years. "Paving is going to be very expensive, sub grade is expensive and the Broad River Crossing is going to be quite a span so that bridge will probably be around $5-6 million dollars," Work tenders will go out in coming weeks in hopes the bridge work will be finished by September 30th. The multi-year bypass project should be ready in the fall of 2014.

Judge Lenehan: Enisor Fit to Stand Trial

A judge has ruled that a New Germany man accused of fatally shooting his wife before turning the gun on himself is mentally fit to stand trial. Judge Gregory Lenehan render a decision in Bridgewater Provincial Court this morning. Wayne Eisnor faces a charge of first-degree murder in the death of his wife, Tina Eisnor in a parking lot in June 2010. The 49 year-old is accused of shooting the woman twice as she sat in her car near a grocery store before shooting himself in the head. He was found unfit to stand trial in October 2010 because of a mental impairment caused by the self-inflicted gunshot wound. Eisnor has been staying at the East Coast Forensic Hospital in Darmouth since being released from hospital. However, he will be remanded into custody while he awaits trial. Dates for a preliminary hearing will be set on April 18th.

Chester-Municipal Chamber Needs Grant Money Swiftly

The Chester-Municipal Chamber of Commerce is looking for its grant money from the municipality in a more timely fashion. The funds are used to operate the Visitor Information Centre in the summer and have been transferred from the municipality in August. However, President Ben Wiper says he'd like to see the money come through by the end May. He says the organization has been forced to use it membership dues to operate the VIC until the grant money is available. "Because otherwise we end up operating the VIC for three or four months without knowing the money is coming and yet we are already spending money we don't have. We're using the membership dues for our chamber and not all of our members agree with that - it's already been a bit of a contentious issue for us - not overly but for some members it is," The chamber is also asking for a multi year funding commitment from the municipality in addition to an increase in its grant funding to $25,000 - an increase of $4,000 compared to last year. Chester Council deferred the decision to its budget deliberations and will re-visit the request in the coming weeks.