$6 million to merge
Victoria, Salmon Cove not impressed by offer
The Department of Municipal Affairs is offering more than $6 million to the towns of Victoria and Salmon Cove if they decide to merge.
But, according to Victoria Mayor Arthur Burke, neither of the towns is impressed by the offer.
The money would come in the form of water and sewer, roads and debt write-off for both towns and a soccer field.
Final hearings on the feasibility of the two towns merging were held in April of 2008.
Since then both towns and government appear to have been slowly working on an agreement.
In the fall of 2008, Victoria and Salmon Cove met with Keith Warren of Municipal Affairs. Back then Warren presented a list of water and sewer projects prioritized by the towns and submitted to the department, along with a list of roads in both towns, paved and unpaved. He asked both to prioritize the list of roads they’d like to see upgraded under a merger or an amount they would expect each year for roads.
Victoria said it would expect to receive $600,000 a year for upgrading and resurfacing roads over a six-year period.
The $6 million proposal was reviewed at Victoria’s regular council meeting last month, two days before they and Salmon Cove met with Municipal Affairs Minster Diane Whalen, MHAs Jerome Kennedy and Charlene Johnson and other government officials Feb. 25.
At the council meeting, Victoria councillors were asked if they saw anything in the proposal they could recommend to residents of Victoria in relation to a merger.
According to minutes from the meeting,“Everyone was in agreement that more would have to be offered by government.”
The $6,030,000 over five years would cover $1,300,000 in water and sewer; $1,200,000 in roadwork and a $350,000 debt writeoff for Victoria.
Salmon Cove would see $2,750,000 spent on water and sewer and $180,000 for debt write-off.
It appears $250,000 would be allotted for a soccer field that would presumably be shared by both communities.
Victoria compiled a list to submit to government at the Feb. 25 meeting. It includes a piece of snow clearing equipment equal to what the town already has; a trash compactor; a new backhoe, and a centralized fire station. The town would like all water and sewer to be completed in Salmon Cove at no cost to the entity, all roads in Salmon Cove to be upgraded and paved, status on the municipal operating grant, and complete debt relief for both towns.
According to Victoria’s engineer, Salmon Cove’s water and sewer system will cost from $5 million to $6 million to complete. Victoria says it would also like a water and sewer line for Old Track Road west of Country Road.
Late last week Mayor Burke toldThe Compass“ we gave them our wish list — well it wasn’t real- ly our wish list, it was part of the earlier list which they didn’t have included in the package. They agreed to look at it again, but told us not to expect too much because they’re not going to buy a merge.”
The mayor says his town is in good shape at the moment.
“With the 90-10 cost sharing ratio we know we can take on $10 million worth of work and we can borrow the million and pay that out easily.”
He said government was supposed to get back to the towns the week following the Feb. 25 meeting. As of Friday, March 13, there had been no word.
“But even if council agrees it’s a good deal, we’ll beholding public meetings and leave it to our citizens to make the final decision,” Mayor Burke said.