Brigus brings down budget
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.”