In Monday night’s Special COW Meeting, Town CAO Malcolm Morris presented to Council his recommendation that the 2010 Boundary Agreement between the town of Smiths Falls and the Township of Montague be revisited, in order to renegotiate the Revenue Sharing portion of the Agreement.
In 2009, the OPP decided to build their regional headquarters at the former Rideau Regional, which was within the boundary of Montague at the time. The OPP required piped services, and Montague and Lanark County (which has jurisdiction over Hwy 43 along that property) annexed the former Rideau Regional to Smiths Falls. At that time, the restructuring order was arranged so that the town of Smiths Falls would pay 50% of the collected taxes from that property to Montague Township in perpetuity. “In perpetuity means forever,” expanded Councillor Alford bluntly, “There is no end-date on this deal, revenue-sharing with Montague. Even the Wal-Mart property, when that annexation took place, that was only a twenty-year deal.”
The terms of the revenue-sharing agreement are atypical. “I do think that it’s outrageously unusual,” said Councillor Dwyer, “this is in a league of its own. I can appreciate at the time there was a great deal of interest in securing the OPP headquarters within the community. But, given that the landscape has changed dramatically, it’s worth going back to renegotiate that.”
In October of this year, the town received a presentation from Graham Bird of the GBA group proposing an ambitious development project on this property, now known as the Gallipeau Centre. Smiths Falls would bear the cost of updating the piped services and infrastructure for the development, largely supported by property taxes. To that end, CAO Morris recommended that Council should open a dialogue with the Township of Montague to review the terms of the 2010 Boundary Agreement, and that two councillors, the Mayor, and the CAO should represent the town in any discussion on the topic. The town councillors were keenly eager to participate; Mayor Pankow will select two councillors to assist in the discussions with Montague Township.
The township of Montague comprises approximately 280 square kilometres, and has a population of 3761 people.