Fire fee collections a concern in Bay Roberts
The Town of Bay Roberts is growing increasingly frustrated by the number of homeowners in two neighbouring communities — Port de Grave and Bareneed — and boatowners in Port de Grave who are not paying fire protection fees.
The town charges $50 annually to each homeowner, but the rate of payment has dipped to just over 80 per cent, said Nigel Black, chief administrative officer for the Town of Bay Roberts.
That’s well below the 90-plus per cent of Bay Roberts taxpayers who pay their bills to the town, Black added.
“It’s not terrible, but it’s lower than our regular tax collection rates,” Black said. “It’s something we are keeping an eye on.”
Bay Roberts mayor Glenn Littlejohn referenced the issue last month during his budget speech to council, saying the non-payment issue “ is a concern to us all.”
The town sent out bills totalling $ 20,400 to homeowners and boatowners in 2010, but collected $16,950. Black said there are also outstanding balances from previous years.
Port de Grave and Bareneed do not have municipal councils, so bills are sent directly to homeowners and boatowners, Black explained. Port de Grave is home to a large fleet of commercial fishing vessels.
Black said the town’s finance committee will decide soon on a course of action, but he admitted it’s a tough bill to collect.
“ They’re outside of our boundaries. It’s not like you can put a lien on their property or shut off their services,” Black said.
“ We’re going to have to look at it, and if it gets to a point where we’re not collecting, we would have to decide whether or not to provide the service. But it’s not at that stage at this point.”
The revenue flows directly into the town’s coffers. It’s similar to an arrangement the Bay Roberts fire department had with other neighbouring communities — Clarke’s Beach, North River, South River and Makinsons — prior to the activation of the South River-based Bay de Grave fire department last year.