Bri­gus brings down bud­get

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BYBURTON K. JANES

Bri­gus mayor By­ron Rodway and his coun­cil are very pos­i­tive about their town’s fu­ture prospects. If all goes ac­cord­ing to plan, they are ex­pect­ing Bri­gus to be debt-free by Fe­bru­ary 2013.

The mayor, who chairs the fi­nance com­mit­tee, in­sists this mile­stone can be reached “if we con­tinue to toe the line and move along the way we are (mov­ing).”

This, af­ter the town coun­cil adopted its 2011 op­er­at­ing bud­get last month.

The over­all bud­get came in at $693,399, which is about $40,000 more than the 2010 bud­get. The coun­cil had no prob­lem bal­anc­ing the bud­get, Rodway says.

Per­haps the most pos­i­tive as­pect of the 2011 bud­get, at least from the view­point of tax­pay­ers, is that the town was able to bal­ance its bud­get with­out in­creas­ing tax rates. Last year, the coun­cil rolled back the town’s mill rate from eight-and-ahalf to eight mills. “It’s stay­ing at eight,” Rodway states. The town is able to sus­tain it­self be­cause of prop­erty tax and in­creas­ing land val­ues, he notes.

The only in­creases in the bud­get are in build­ing per­mit fees. “It’s not about gen­er­at­ing a bar­rel of rev­enue. It’s about bring­ing build­ing per­mits into line with re­al­ity,” he ex­plains.

In ad­di­tion to car­ing for the day-to-day op­er­at­ing ex­penses of the town, the 2011 bud­get al­lo­cated $ 200,000 for trans­porta­tion ser­vices, $110,000 for en­vi­ron­men­tal health, and $21,000 for recre­ation and cul­ture ser­vices.

“Our money is go­ing to be spent on pro­vid­ing rea­son­able ser­vices for rea­son­able tax dol­lars,” the mayor says. A town can only work with the money that’s avail­able, he adds.

De­spite the up­beat na­ture of the bud­get, the mayor in­cluded in his speech sev­eral cau­tion­ary

Bri­gus Mayor Bryon Rodway edit­ing the cur­rent is­sue of The Bri­gus Vin­di­ca­tor.

notes be­cause of on­go­ing chal­lenges faced by the town.

Not un­like other ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties in the prov­ince, Bri­gus, in los­ing its own land­fill, is now faced with the spi­ral­ing costs as­so­ci­ated with ship­ping waste to the Robin Hood Bay site.

In April, the tip­ping fees will jump from $51 to $65 per tonne. “ This is a new chal­lenge that’s go­ing to need a lot of fo­cus and at­ten­tion in the fu­ture,” Rodway says. How­ever, he in­di­cates resi- dents are be­ing en­cour­aged to re­cy­cle, thereby sav­ing the town tip­ping fees and the res­i­dents taxes. Other ex­am­ples of on­go­ing chal­lenges are: • Bri­gus has no big in­dus­try. “ We’re lack­ing in the busi­ness depart­ment,” the mayor says.

• Bri­gus is a tourist town. Af­ter Thanks­giv­ing week­end, over 130 of the 500 res­i­dences are closed up.

• Bri­gus has many peo­ple liv­ing on a fixed in­come. “ You have to try and strike a bal­ance that will keep your taxes rea­son­able,” he says.

Mean­while, the town is un­der­go­ing a new town plan re­view, to re­place the cur­rent one which has not been up­dated in some years. “This doc­u­ment, which is used as a guide, is very im­por­tant in the way our town de­vel­ops,” Rodway in­di­cates.

He wel­comes the peo­ple who are mov­ing into the town and buy­ing up prop­er­ties. “They’re not go­ing to drink all our wa­ter, fill up our dump or wear out our roads,” he jokes.

While the town has ap­plied to the pro­vin­cial govern­ment for a $5 mil­lion, three-year cap­i­tal works plan to ad­dress wa­ter and sewer chal­lenges, the mayor is dis­ap­pointed be­cause “it’s tough to get sup­port from the pro­vin­cial govern­ment.”

An­other frus­tra­tion is the con­tin­ued pres­ence in the town of one di­lap­i­dated build­ing in par­tic­u­lar, the for­mer Craft In­dus­tries prop­erty. “It’s a proper eye­sore; one of the thorns in our side, and we just don’t have the bud­get to re­move the build­ing,” the mayor says.

Frus­tra­tions aside, Rodway con­tin­ues to be­lieve in the fu­ture of his town. “I’d cer­tainly say Bri­gus is a town on the move. I think ev­ery­body strug­gles, but it isn’t all that bad. We’re do­ing well here.”

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