$6 mil­lion to merge

Vic­to­ria, Sal­mon Cove not im­pressed by of­fer

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY LIL­LIAN SIM­MONS

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.

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