Amalgamation No Thank You Distorts Facts

Posted by One Pictou County on 24 May 2016


OPINION

As a Chartered Professional Accountant, I decided to review the recent claims by the Amalgamation No Thank You Society (ANTY) relating to the funding agreement reached between the Municipality of the County of Pictou and the Towns of New Glasgow Pictou and Stellarton with the Province of Nova Scotia.

In the ANTY release, and within their background paper they claim... “Amalgamation deal sells Pictou County far below market value: Bad deal for county, good deal for province”. They reach this conclusion by generating a per person dollar derived by dividing the total financial amounts provided under the various letters of intent into the population of the dissolving towns. They then compare those numbers to the Pictou County related letter of intent.

When comparing data accountants use words like “presents fairly, generally accepted, and comparable”. Data can be presented many different ways in attempt to illustrate a point of view but should never be presented to mislead the reader to a conclusion that he or she would not come to on their own.

Using population as a comparison is not relevant in this situation as it fails to recognize that each agreement is community specific, and that the elements of all agreements have very little to do with how many people live in that municipality. For example, all of the agreements relate to the number of kilometers of town roads, the majority of capital funding needing to be associated with specific projects, and the freezing of annual equalization grants which were determined through a specific formula. Therefore using population as a measurement is not an accurate representation of how well a deal was negotiated.

The data used also fails to address two important points. The first is that the population of the rural areas in the communities outside of Pictou County was not used in the comparisons. Second the elements of the Canso letter of intent will not be replicated. Even though using population as a measure is not relevant if it were used on a comparable consolidated "all in basis" the attached analysis shows that One Pictou County, in fact, received a fair and reasonable settlement and no matter what the measure total funding, new funding or by population or per home the results are superior to all but Canso who would be considered an outlier in this situation.

Total funds by person – One Pictou County $715, closest Springhill & County $631

Total funds by home – One Pictou County $1,374, closest Springhill & County $964

New funds by person – One Pictou County $409, closest Springhill & County $322

New funds by home – One Pictou County $786, closest Springhill & County $491

Sincerely,
Rick Feehan, CPA, CA Sinclairs Island