Harbour Grace Council revises budget
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.
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.
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.