Morris-Turnberry drops shared building department with North Huron
BY DENNY SCOTT
Last week, Morris-Turnberry issued a press release stating the municipality would be severing its shared building department with North Huron Township.
The department, which is run by Morris-Turnberry with North Huron purchasing service, has been shared for the last four years and was set to be shared for another year, however Morris-Turnberry Council, according to the release, decided to end it this year. The service will discontinue as of Dec. 31, 2021 according to a follow-up e-mail from Morris-Turnberry Chief Administrative Officer Trevor Hallam.
“We did not set out to end this agreement,” Morris-Turnberry Mayor Jamie Heffer said in the release. “We just wanted to make a change so we would each pay for what we are actually using.”
Earlier this year, Morris-Turnberry staff reviewed the 2020 usage of the department, and claimed that Morris-Turnberry ratepayers contributed $10,000 that paid for North Huron residents as part of the 60/40 split, favouring North Huron, that had been previously set up.
After discussing the issue, Morris-Turnberry Council offered to renegotiate that split and make it 50/50, which was closer to the actual usage figures, according to Morris-Turnberry staff. At the time, North Huron Council members felt the amount of staff time necessary to verify the findings wasn’t worth the amount of money that would change hands as a result, and council took no action in regards to the request request.
“The agreement was set up to be reviewed and adjusted as needed, and the 60/40 split was only an estimate to get it started,” Heffer said in the press release. “The [requested] change seemed like a fair, common sense solution and we gave lots of notice, but with the timelines involved and no answer back we had to make this decision to avoid being locked into another year of an imbalance agreement.”
The cancellation of the agreement marks the demise of another shared service between the municipalities, which, in the recent past, have shared several senior staff members, including public works. It also comes as the two sides are at an impasse in regards to cross-border servicing where North Huron systems are being utilized by Morris-Turnberry ratepayers on the borders of the two municipalities.
When contacted by The Citizen, North Huron Reeve Bernie Bailey said there was no official response from his council, save that the issue would be discussed at its upcoming council meeting on June 7.