Re­ac­tion to higher fees mostly pos­i­tive, says mayor

Bay Roberts in­creases fire pro­tec­tion rate by 50 per cent for neigh­bour­ing prop­erty own­ers

The Compass - - EDITORIAL OPINION - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER nmercer@cb­n­com­pass.ca

It has been just over three months since the Town of Bay Roberts raised fire pro­tec­tion fees for prop­erty own­ers in the nearby un­in­cor­po­rated com­mu­ni­ties of Port de Grave, Bare­need and sev­eral prop­er­ties in Ot­ter­bury, and Mayor Philip Wood said last week the re­ac­tion has been mostly pos­i­tive.

“I thought that there would be a neg­a­tive re­ac­tion, but ac­tu­ally the neg­a­tive re­ac­tion was against the ones who weren’t paying,” said Wood.

In De­cem­ber, the Bay Roberts town coun­cil adopted its 2013 mu­nic­i­pal op­er­at­ing bud­get. The bud­get con­tained a 50 per cent in­crease — from $50 to $75 an­nu­ally — in fire ser­vice fees for prop­erty own­ers in th­ese com­mu­ni­ties.

Wood said the hike in fees was done in line with the ris­ing cost in fire ser­vices.

“For many years fees did not go up, but costs have in­creased and funds go to­ward pur­chas­ing ad­di­tional equip­ment,” he said.

A prime ex­am­ple of this is the new truck pur­chased by the Bay Roberts Vol­un­teer Fire De­part­ment. With a por­ta­ble pump in the bed, the truck is de­signed with Port de Grave in mind, since there are no fire hy­drants in the com­mu­nity.

The de­part­ment has also pur­chased new self-con­tained breath­ing ap­pa­ra­tuses, ac­cord­ing to Wood.

“That’s the kind of things it goes to­ward,” said Wood. “All of which is at the ben­e­fit of the com­mu­nity.”

Some have sug­gested the in­crease was prompted by the town’s frus­tra- tions at try­ing to col­lect the fee, and that it was only pe­nal­iz­ing those who loy­ally paid, while those who didn’t were get­ting a free ride.

Wood de­nied this was the case, but com­mented that ev­ery­thing would go smoother if ev­ery­one paid the fee.

“It’s like any taxes or fees. It’s a lot bet­ter when ev­ery­one is pulling to­gether,” he said.

How­ever, Wood has seen an in­crease in col­lec­tions since the town de­cided to put more em­pha­sis on hav­ing the res­i­dents pay.

“Since the last time, fees have picked up con­sid­er­ably,” he said. “The only is­sue now is some longterm peo­ple do not be­lieve that they should be paying any­thing.

Wood said it is in the best in­ter­est of res­i­dents to pay the $75, since it can re­sult in lower in­surance pre­mi­ums.

“Many peo­ple were up­set be­cause they felt they would lose the ser­vice, not be­cause the Town of Bay Roberts may cut it off, but oth­ers weren’t paying their share,” said Wood.

One thing is sure though. Bay Roberts will not be with­hold­ing fire ser­vices from res­i­dents who have not paid their fees.

“It’s an hon­our sys­tem. In fact, we’ve gone down to houses on a cou­ple of oc­ca­sions and those in­di­vid­u­als have not been paying their dues,” said Wood. “With re­gard to some of the ones who aren’t paying, the fire de­part­ment is go­ing to visit with them and ex­plain the im­por­tance be­hind it.”

Philip Wood is the mayor of Bay Roberts.

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