The Mayor of Smiths Falls has announced that he will be sending a large bill to the Village of Merrickville-Wolford for the use of the Smiths Falls Memorial Centre. Shawn Pankow has suggested to Mayor David Nash that Merrickville-Wolford is looking for a free ride when it comes to the use of the facility in his town.
This is not the case, as council passed a resolution to subsidize any user fees being charged to the residents of Merrickville-Wolford for the use of the Memorial Centre by $200 per person. However, Smiths Falls has decided not to charge user fees at all this year, instead banning the residents of Merrickville-Wolford, because their council chose not to enter into the cost sharing agreement suggested by Smith’s Falls. This would have come at a cost of $15,727.50 for Merrickville-Wolford.
When Mayor Nash replied to Mayor Pankow, reminding him of the user fee subsidy, he replied by stating that, if that was the case, they would be sending a bill of $33,400 to Merrickville-Wolford to pay for the estimated 167 Merrickville-Wolford residents who use their facility. “Recognizing that the per capita cost being invoiced is much greater than the amount indicated in the recreation contribution agreement ($33,400 vs the $15,727.50), we would like to suggest that we are still open to you endorsing the recreation cost sharing agreement,” Mayor Pankow wrote in a letter to Mayor Nash.
Merrickville-Wolford CAO, John Regan, says Mayor Pankow’s comments are harsh and inappropriate. The CAO also says that, although council has seen a list of the alleged 167 Merrickville-Wolford residents who use the facility, they have no way of verifying it. “I’m not sure how the town of Smiths Falls can bill us,” he says. Further consideration of the cost sharing agreement may be brought up again at budget time, but as far as John Regan is concerned, once a decision is made by council, it should not be brought up again for at least a year. “Council has made a decision and we are done with it.”
It is evident from the response by the Mayor, council and staff that, should a bill show up at the municipal office, it will not be paid. Further investigation is needed into the number of residents who use the facility before any money changes hands between Smiths Falls and Merrickville-Wolford.