TRURO – A request from the Special Hazards Response Unit (SHRU) to the County of Colchester for additional funding for operational costs has been referred by council to its upcoming budget deliberations.
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.
SHRU secretary/treasurer Bruce Langille, however, recently appeared before council to request an additional $15,000 per year to assist with increasing operational costs.
Langille also requested that the municipality add a ¼ cent to county wide area tax rate that would generate an additional $46,000 per year for approximately six years to generate $294,000 in capital expenses, such as such as updating its vehicle fleet, including its heavy rescue truck, which is a 1989 model.
That request, however, met with resistance from some councillors who want to receive more information about how much other municipalities that are served by the SHRU contribute to the organization.
“We’re not the only municipal unit that’s being served here,” Mayor Bob Taylor said.
During Langille’s presentation, he told council the current model consists of annual funding from 22 municipalities serviced by the SHRU for hazardous material calls at a rate of 40 cents per head of population.
Councillor Tom Taggart also questioned the SHRU request, given that the municipality already contributes $2 million (through area fire service tax rates) to the county’s fire departments.
“They have a great program but I think we’re putting in too much money,” he said, in suggesting the possibility of a duplication of equipment by some fire departments.
While saying he fully supports the fire services groups and what they do Taggart also suggested the municipality should have a look at the entire inventory of fire-fighting/rescue equipment available within the county before any decision is made.
“My point is, I don’t think we should be asking for any more money from the taxpayers to go into the fire service, he said.
A suggestion was made for council to meet with the fire chiefs of the county but it was ultimately decided to put off further discussion until more information can be made available.