Fi­nan­cially sta­ble in Vic­to­ria

Town has no prob­lem cov­er­ing its debt, says mayor

The Compass - - ORTHTE - THE COM­PASS BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER

Drop­ping rates

The Town of Vic­to­ria has no prob­lems cov­er­ing its debt. With a debt-ser­vic­ing ra­tio (DSR) of nine per cent, the Con­cep­tion Bay North com­mu­nity comes in well be­low the bench­mark of 30 per cent set by the Government of New­found­land and Labrador.

“Ev­ery year, we’re get­ting bet­ter and bet­ter,” Mayor Arthur Burke told The Com­pass last week.

The DSR is a town’s mu­nic­i­pal debt di­vided by the com­bi­na­tion of a town’s lo­cal rev­enue and mu­nic­i­pal op­er­at­ing grant.

The pro­vin­cial government likes to see mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties keep its DSR be­low 30 per cent each year.

Vic­to­ria makes it a pri­or­ity to en­sure it is able to cover its debt.

“We’ve al­ways paid off debt by our­selves,” said Burke. “It’s no prob­lem for us to cover our debt.”

This con­cen­tra­tion on re­duc­ing the town’s debt has al­lowed Vic­to­ria to steadily be­come fi­nan­cially sta­ble over the last cou­ple of years.

Last month, Vic­to­ria passed its 2013 mu­nic­i­pal bud­get, which stands at roughly $1.4 mil­lion.

“We have real good fi­nan­cial sta­bil­ity,” said Burke.

“We’re one of the towns that had the lower as­sess­ments,” said Burke.

Burke said that through the as­sess­ments, his town would gen­er­ate $142,000 in ex­tra rev­enue.

“If we did not drop the mill rate, our ci­ti­zens would’ve had some sub­stan­tial in­creases,” he said. “We didn’t want to raise taxes un­less it was ab­so­lutely nec­es­sary.

“It was only fair to give it back to our ci­ti­zens.”

“Ev­ery year, we’re get­ting bet­ter and

bet­ter.” — Arthur Burke, mayor of the Town of Vic­to­ria

Like other towns in the Trin­ity-Con­cep­tion re­gion, Vic­to­ria saw its res­i­den­tial prop­erty as­sess­ments in­crease. This prompted the town to lower its mill rate from 9.5 to 8.5.

Vic­to­ria’s as­sess­ment in­creases were some of the low­est in the re­gion, at av­er­age of 28 per cent.

Un­der this in­crease, a home that was pre­vi­ously val­ued at $150,000 might now be val­ued at $192,000.

Whereas that home­owner would be paying $1,425 with the old as­sess­ment and mill rate, now the owner would pay $1,632 with the new as­sess­ment and mill rate.

That is a dif­fer­ence of $207, or 12.68 per cent.

Praise for Pen­ney

Burke gave Jeanette Pen­ney, his deputy mayor, high marks for the work she did with the bud­get.

Pen­ney, who also chairs the fi­nance com­mit­tee, was pre­par­ing and de­liv­er­ing her first bud­get. “She did an ex­cel­lent job,” said Burke. Vic­to­ria did not have to change much with its 2013 bud­get. Burke said that there are sub­tle dif­fer­ences be­tween 2012 and this year, but much of it is the same.

“It takes care of ev­ery­thing in our town,” he said.

Vic­to­ria’s fi­nance com­mit­tee did a lit­tle bit of fore­cast­ing when lin­ing up bud­get amounts for de­part­ments.

“We’re try­ing to think ahead of time,” said Burke. “We’ll say here is an area, last year, where we didn’t spend it all, and we’ll take some of that money … and get things done. “We haven’t taken any­thing away.” Over­all, Burke said coun­cil and the fi­nance com­mit­tee were “quite pleased” with the bud­get.

“We feel that it is quite ad­e­quate to ful­fill our fi­nan­cial obli­ga­tions in 2013,” said Burke. Here are some high­lights of the bud­get: • $59,071 for fire pro­tec­tion; • $80,000 for streets, roads and side­walks; • $30,000 for snow re­moval; • $52,000 for the water sup­ply; • $31,000 for recre­ation and com­mu­nity cen­tres.

nmercer@cb­n­com­pass.ca

Photo by Ni­cholas Mercer/the Com­pass

Arthur Burke is mayor of the Town of Vic­to­ria.

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