Flower’s Cove can’t af­ford $600K for water/roads

De­part­ment says town must pay same rate as others

Northern Pen - - FRONT PAGE - BY STEPHEN ROBERTS

FLOWER’S COVE, NL – The coun­cil of Flower’s Cove says the town can­not af­ford to pay $600,000 for its share of in­fra­struc­ture work an­nounced by the fed­eral and pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment on Oct. 21.

Ac­cord­ing to Mayor Keith Bil­lard, coun­cil dis­cussed the is­sue at a spe­cial meet­ing Oct. 18 and agreed to ac­cept fed­eral and pro­vin­cial con­tri­bu­tions to­talling ap­prox­i­mately $600,000 for an up­grade to the water sys­tem, com­bined with the roads

Un­der that agree­ment, the town would have to con­trib­ute an equal amount — $600,000 — for the $1.2 mil­lion worth of work.

How­ever, coun­cil pro­poses it should pay just 10 per cent for its share of the project. It also sug­gests the work could be done for just $700,000,

That would re­duce the town’s cost from $600,000 at 50 per cent to just $60,000 at 10 per cent, ex­clud­ing HST re­bate.

How­ever, gov­ern­ment is not open to coun­cil’s sug­ges­tion.

In a state­ment to the North­ern Pen on Fri­day, Oct. 27, the De­part­ment of Trans­porta­tion and Works stated that of­fi­cials met with the mayor of the Town of Flower’s Cove as re­cently as Oct. 26 to ex­plore pos­si­bil­i­ties for the project fund­ing. “The min­is­ter of Mu­nic­i­pal Af­fairs and En­vi­ron­ment has also met with the mayor to dis­cuss this is­sue,” ac­cord­ing to the state­ment. “The town will be sub­ject to the same cost­shared ra­tios as other com­mu­ni­ties as de­vel­oped un­der the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment’s new three-year mu­nic­i­pal in­fra­struc­ture pro­gram an­nounced through Bud­get 2017.” That pol­icy put the mu­nic­i­pal share for cap­i­tal works fund­ing for water sys­tem up­grades at 10 per cent and road up­grades at 50 per­cent.

Ac­cord­ing to Bil­lard, coun­cil de­ter­mined it would be “ir­re­spon­si­ble” to take on any road up­grades at a 50/50 cost share ra­tio, say­ing it would bank­rupt the town.

Bil­lard says coun­cil would be will­ing to work with the De­part­ment of Mu­nic­i­pal Af­fairs and En­vi­ron­ment to get as much water and road work fin­ished as pos­si­ble, within the town’s abil­ity to pay.

He re­ferred to the town’s lower tax base and says the high num­ber of se­niors in Flower’s Cove can’t af­ford to pay for the work at this cost.

“Out of 99 house­holds, 20 house­holds only have one in­come,” Bil­lard told the North­ern Pen. “Of the 201 res­i­dents, 50 are se­niors.”

Bil­lard has been adamant that the in­crease in the mu­nic­i­pal share for road­work is too much for small towns like Flower’s Cove.

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