Funding model for Special Hazards Response Unit needs updating

Published on February 3, 2014
Bruce Langille

TRURO – A new funding model is required to provide proper monetary resources for the Special Hazards Response Unit (SHRU) that services Colchester County, an official says.

The current model consists of annual funding from 22 municipalities that are serviced by the SHRU for hazardous material calls at a rate of 40 cents per head of population.

But that funding amount is spread out to include response units that service other areas and the amount received by the SHRU is about 60 per cent, or 24 cents per head, of the overall amount, for an annual total of $32,000, secretary/treasurer Bruce Langille, told Colchester County council at its last meeting.

"So really, our spending power with that has all but dissipated," he said. "Clearly $32,000 in this world doesn't do it anymore."

Colchester County provides in-kind services, such as the building in Bible Hill in which the SHRU is housed, along with insurance costs to the tune of about $30,000 per year.

Langille told council that calls to Colchester County that the SHRU responds to account for 87 per cent of its total activity. That amounts to more than 1,000 incidents during the 20 years the SHRU has been operating.

And given that the SHRU vehicle fleet and its self-contained breathing apparatus inventories require updating, the estimated cost to cover those items stands at about $250,000.

In addition to the money received for operating costs, Langille asked council to consider providing it with about $50,000 per year to be used for capital expenses, such as updating its vehicle fleet, including its heavy rescue truck, which is a 1989 model.

Council referred the request to a future committee meeting for further discussion.

Langille also suggested changing the municipal funding model to establish a pre-determined general rate, so it could be funded in a manner similar to what fire departments receive.