Har­bour Grace Coun­cil re­vises bud­get

The Compass - - EDITORIAL OPINION - BY BILL BOW­MAN

The Har­bour Grace Town Coun­cil has had to re­vise its bud­get for 2011 to pur­chase two new pieces of equip­ment.

The change means the town had to in­crease its bud­get by $15,500, which brings their to­tal bud­get to $2,573,919. Coun­cil plans to re­cover the $15,500 on the rev­enue side of the ledger from the sale of older equip­ment.

Coun­cil had ini­tially passed two mo­tions at its Jan. 31 coun­cil meet­ing to pur­chase a new back­hoe and dump truck.

On Feb. 24, less than a month af­ter those mo­tions were passed and bud­get sub­mit­ted, town clerk/ad­min­is­tra­tor Lestor For­ward said an of­fi­cial with the Depart­ment of Mu­nic­i­pal Af­fairs ad­vised the town “a lease/pur­chase re­quires an ap­proval to bor­row from the min­is­ter, and that the 2011 bud­get must be re­vised to re­flect the lease costs as debt charges.”

Coun­cil a spe­cial meet­ing later that day to deal with the is­sue, and ac­cord­ing to the min­utes, Mayor Don Coombs was not im­pressed.

“Mayor (Don) Coombs said he was very up­set with the events that led to the tele­phone call from Mu­nic­i­pal Af­fairs.”

He later told The Com­pass that town of­fi­cials were not aware of such a pro­to­col and “I’ve been around here 22 years and Lester has been around here 29 years.”

Coombs was dis­ap­pointed the town had to restart the or­der­ing process, but said he doesn’t dis­agree with the pro­ce­dure.

Coun. Joan Short, who chairs the fi­nance com­mit­tee, ad­vised coun­cil “the bud­get for 2011 would have to be re­vised and re­sub­mit­ted to the Depart­ment of Mu­nic­i­pal Af­fairs as it didn’t in­clude the cost for new ve­hi­cles.”

At their Feb. 24 spe­cial meet­ing, coun­cil­lors agreed their best op­tion was to can­cel their or­ders for the new back­hoe and dump truck and re­scind the mo­tions of Jan. 31.

Coun­cil passed two new mo­tions at last week’s coun­cil meet­ing. One calls for the pur­chase of a new JCB back­hoe at a cost of $97,444 plus HST, which brings the to­tal to $105,240, and the other for the pur­chase of a new In­ter­na­tional dump truck at a cost $139,151 plus HST, which amounts to $150,283.

Both ten­ders were awarded to Harvey and Com­pany of St. John’s, which will sup­ply the equip­ment un­der a lease/pur­chase ar­range­ment.

Mean­while, the town plans to sell it’s old (1988) dump truck and a 2000 pickup.

Coun­cil hopes to get at least $15,500 for the two ve­hi­cles.

Coun­cil ex­pects to take de­liv­ery of the new equip­ment by Aug. 1, three months later than planned.

Ap­pli­ca­tion de­nied

Coun­cil turned down an ap­pli­ca­tion from Pauline Yet­man of Har­bour Grace for a com­mer­cial oc­cu­pancy per­mit to op­er­ate a café at the Ad­mi­ral’s Ma­rina.

Yet­man has leased space at the ma­rina on the south­side of Har­bour Grace from the har­bour au­thor­ity.

She had hoped to open a café serv­ing cof­fee, tea and pas­tries. She told coun­cil she had al­ready ap­plied for all gov­ern­ment per­mits and li­cences. The café was sched­uled to open form May to Oc­to­ber.

Coun. Joan Short ques­tioned whether the har­bour au­thor­ity was per­mit­ted to rent out space in its build­ing.

Town clerk/ad­min­is­tra­tor Lester For­ward ex­plained if the har­bour au­thor­ity wished to op­er­ate the fa­cil­ity to sup­ple­ment their op­er­a­tion, that would be con­sid­ered an ac­ces­sory use. How­ever, re­fer­ring to the ap­pli­ca­tion, For­ward said, “this is a sep­a­rate busi­ness — this is a pri­vate en­ter­prise.”

Coombs told The Com­pass af­ter­wards the ap­pli­ca­tion to op­er­ate a pri­vate en­ter­prise at the ma­rina “doesn’t qual­ify un­der the town’s zon­ing reg­u­la­tions out­lined in our new town plan.”

The a re a is zon e d a s “ open space/re­cre­ation.”

Coun­cil will ad­vise the ap­pli­cant she has the right to ap­peal coun­cil’s de­ci­sion.

New town hall

It could be three to four years down the road, but the town coun­cil wants to move out of its cur­rent mu­nic­i­pal build­ing and into the old Sco­tia­bank build­ing up the street.

Ac­cord­ing to the mayor, the town hall “is not ac­ces­si­ble to the pub­lic.” The coun­cil cham­bers, for ex­am­ple, are at the top of a steep flight of stairs.

Coun­cil de­cided at its Feb. 21 meet­ing to have an ap­praisal done on the town hall.

“ We have al­ready had of­fers to pur­chase the build­ing,” Coombs said.

The Scotibank build­ing, which is cur­rently used by the Royal Cana­dian Le­gion, is all on one level. How­ever, it needs a new roof.

Coun­cil had hoped to move its cham­bers and ad­min­is­tra­tive of­fices to the pro­posed new arena.

In its orig­i­nal pro­posal for a “re­gional re­cre­ation com­plex,” coun­cil had in­cluded a town coun­cil cham­bers, multi-pur­pose room and of­fice and de­sign to al­low fu­ture ex­pan­sion to ac­com­mo­date other sports such as curl­ing and bowl­ing.

In a letter from Car­bon­ear-Har­bour Grace MHA Jerome Kennedy tabled at the Feb. 21 coun­cil meet­ing, “con­cerns were raised over the ex­tent and cost of the pro­posal and the chal­lenges gov­ern­ments have in these eco­nomic times to pro­vide fund­ing.”

At gov­ern­ment’s re­quest, coun­cil met with its en­gi­neers and came back with a more mod­est pro­posal for the arena.

“The cost was ex­treme and it wasn’t go­ing to hap­pen,” Coombs said.

In a re­cent in­ter­view, Kennedy con­firmed the new sta­dium is one of his top pri­or­i­ties.

Pot­holes

Road con­di­tions in the town con­tinue to frus­trate some coun­cil­lors. For the sec­ond time in as many meet­ings, Coun. Short raised the is­sue of pot­holes, and sin­gled out the River­head area.

“When do we see the use of the re­cy­cler,” she asked at last week’s meet­ing?

“ Prob­a­bly the first of May,” Town Clerk/Ad­min­is­tra­tor For­ward replied.

“Can we put some­thing in them?” Coun. Short queried. “Class A,” For­ward re­sponded. “It’s not work­ing,” Mayor Coombs re­marked.

Coun. Wen­dell Hunt sug­gested, “once we get the sec­ond phase of Harvey Street started, there should be lots of ma­te­rial for re­cy­cling.”

Coombs said they have asked the con­struc­tion com­pany that has been awarded the con­tract for the crushed stone and old as­phalt that has to come up for the wa­ter and sewer pro­ject.

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