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LETTER: Windsor Fire Department's hall concerns unfounded


I am responding on behalf of town council to Bryan Morton’s letter to the Hants Journal published online Oct. 12. In Morton’s recollection of history, he does not present all the facts. 

Feel passionate about something you read or saw in the Journal? Concerned about a decision of council? Why not get it off your chest and write a letter to the editor.

He states: “After it (the Walter B. Stephens building) was paid for, the fire department turned the building over to the town for the huge amount of $1.”

That statement is not true and does not reflect the true cost that the town paid for the building over the years. The building was built by the Windsor Fire Protection Company Ltd. and the funds to build it were raised through a 20-year debenture issued by the company and guaranteed by the town.

Each and every year during the life of the debenture, the company prepared an operating budget for the building. It was a very straight-forward calculation. These included the normal things such as heat, lights, caretakers, et cetera, and the budget also included the annual debt service charges on those debentures — principal due that year plus the interest due on all of the remaining debt for that year. From those expenditures, the company deducted the estimated revenue for the year, which was basically the rent to be received from the various retail tenants of the spaces that were rented at that time.

Whatever deficit remained was paid by the town to the company in the form of “rent.”

In the early years when the interest paid was the greatest, the annual deficit was substantial and the “rent” would exceed normal commercial rent. It was pro-rated in the town’s financial statements, based on a formula, between “fire station rent” and “general administration rent.”

So to say the town only paid $1 for the Walter B. Stephens building is a gross misrepresentation.

If one were to analyze the financial statements of the Windsor Fire Protection Company over that 20 year period, one would find that the town paid a major portion of that debenture issue through the “rent” that was paid to the company.

Now, to answer specific questions raised in the letter.

Why have you (council) not made urgent repairs to your building that a structural engineer has said are unsafe?

The building is structurally safe. There is no evidence to the contrary.

Are you receiving rent and lease payments for areas not used by you or the fire department?  Where is the money going?

The RCMP utilizes a substantial portion of the building and the town pays for its own detachment. Some other space is used by Windsor People First and no rent is charged to them; the last bit of space is made available to the Hants County Seniors Safety Association who do good work with our seniors community and we do not charge rent for the use of the space.

Are you waiting for the fire department to build a new station so you can renovate the once-used spaces of the fire department into office spaces for rent?

The 135 year partnership we have had with the WFD Society is strong and WFD will continue to operate out of the current location until the town decides to do otherwise. Besides, the building is built like a fort and the town can put it to better public use if it were ever to reach that point.

If the area used by the fire department is unsafe, why has the building not been condemned?

As stated earlier, Morton is misinformed about the building being unsafe and there is no reason for it to be condemned.  All safety matters were mitigated several years ago. 

Why has the Windsor town council been so quiet on the fire issue when you are responsible for not doing repairs, forcing the Windsor Fire Department to look elsewhere to raise money?

The town has not forced the Windsor Fire Department Society into anything.  The fire station is more than adequate in size to serve the Town of Windsor’s needs. What WFD has been doing the last few years is trying to negotiate a fair deal from those it provides service to, namely West Hants. The town has no reason to enjoin itself in a discussion or negotiations that are only between those two parties.

In closing, Morton does have one fact correct. As a former WFD firefighter who served alongside many men and women who have put West Hants and the Town of Windsor residents first and foremost, he has indeed served with some of the very best.

 

Louis Coutinho,

Chief Administrative Officer for Windsor

 

 

 

 

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