Councillor Steve Streatch said he only wants to close any gaps that currently exists with the LWFRA and that’s why he’s asked for the in-depth analysis by HRM of the LWFRA’s area rate. (Healey photo)

FALL RIVER: The local councillor is only looking at closing any “gaps” that currently exist with the LWF Ratepayers Association (LWFRA), as an in-depth analysis of the situation is being done by HRM.

Steve Streatch has made no qualms he doesn’t like area rates—he wants them gone, as he said later on June 19 when attending the LWFRA AGM, when he spoke to the 40 or so people in attendance at the LWF Hall after the meeting had adjourned.

“I want to make sure that any gaps that exists currently are closed,” said Streatch in his monthly sit-down interview shortly after supper time at his Fall River office. “In other words, that the best possible scenario is brought forward.”

The representative for Waverley-Fall River-Musquodoboit Valley said HRM is looking into the situation that currently exists.

“The municipality over the last couple of months is doing a pretty in-depth analysis of things, both the history and the situation, and indeed where the organization wants to go in the future,” said Streatch.”That will all come back to council in the form of a report I understand sometime in July.”

He would later say that the date it would come to HRM regional council would be July 18.

Councillor Steve Streatch speaks after the LWFRA AGM had adjourned on June 19 at the LWF Hall, speaking about the audit he has requested by HRM of the area rate. (Healey photo)

Streatch said he could not say what the recommendation from HRM staff will be in that report.

“I can tell you clearly that there is a degree of ‘uncomfortability’ as it relates to the surplus that is collected and the potential for that to be distributed outside of the discretion of regional council,” he said.

He said his understanding is because it is a private area rate—those in the boundaries of Lakeview-Windsor Junction-Fall River pay three cents per $100 of taxable assessment—that HRM has very little influence on how that money is spent.

“That puts me in a very awkward position,” he said. “The fact that this area rate is collected on the municipal tax bill does not give the residents the discretion to contribute. It is mandatory. And taxes are taxes.

“The disconnect exists because HRM collects the taxes and then hands it over to an independent body, yet the municipality has no say or authority as to how that money is spent.

“That leaves me with a bit of an uneasy feeling.”