AMHERST – Amherst is not placing too much stock in a report by the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies that has it performing below the provincial average when it comes to making the most effective use of taxpayer dollars.

“It was a huge exercise in information gathering and nothing more,” town CAO Greg Herrett said in reaction to AIMS’ first ever municipal report card. “There’s all kinds of data and measurements in there, but as with anything else we’ll look at it and determine if there’s anything we can learn from it.”

Amherst did not participate in the study and didn’t provide any information for AIMS. The information was gathered from the province through its Municipal Indicators project.

The report card, released Tuesday by the non-partisan independent public policy think thank, has Amherst ranked 36th out of Nova Scotia’s 55 municipal units receiving mostly Cs across the board along with a couple of Ds. AIMS judged each municipal units in areas such as government and finance, taxation, transportation, safety and protection, environmental health, economic development and recreation and culture.

Parrsboro was ranked 13th in the study while the Municipality of Cumberland was 20th. Springhill at 44th and Oxford at 45th didn’t fare so well.

Lockeport was ranked as the top municipality receiving the only B while Middleton, Inverness, Kings and the Town of Sheburne rounded out the Top 5.

The numbers are based on the effectiveness and efficiency of service delivery using a three-year average from 2005 to 2007. Efficiency examines how municipalities spend tax dollars while effectiveness examines the extent to which a service or policy achieves its intended result.

AIMS executive vice-president Charles Cirtwell said that while the report is an indicator of how a municipality is doing compared to others, people shouldn’t get caught up rankings.

“It shows that good municipalities come in all shapes and sizes,” Cirtwell said. “We found some small units being very efficient and very effective and we some big units doing the same.”

Taxpayers, he said, need to get into the nuts and bolts of the report and start asking their questions from there while municipalities need to address some gaps in consistent reporting. He said the province and the municipalities created the municipal indicators project, but haven’t been keeping the information up to date.

“They have to look at this and see where they’re doing well and help those neighbours that aren’t while looking around for assistance in areas where they’re not doing so well,” he said.

In Cumberland County, Cirtwell said Parrsboro, for a smaller town, is doing a great job at offering efficient and effective service for its taxpayers.

“When you realize how small Parrsboro is compared to others, the fact they are performing above the provincial average is more than you could expect from them,” he said. “Amherst, on the other hand, is performing just below the provincial level and should be performing better than that.”

While Amherst’s scores are lower, Cirtwell said, the town is performing well, but suggested low scores in government and finance may indicate there are too many people working for the town.

Oxford’s low rating is tied very much to what appears to be a stagnant economy and the fact not many people are moving into the community while Springhill’s score is associated with problems with drinking water and wastewater treatment.

Cirtwell said the Municipality of Cumberland is fairly effective with a number of B-pluses.

“It says that Cumberland is performing just at or above the provincial average,” he said. “If I were a councillor or taxpayer I wouldn’t be overly concerned because their scores are just about where you’d want them to be.”