Tax rates un­changed in Bay Roberts

Town lays out cap­i­tal works plans for com­ing years

The Compass - - NEWS - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER nmercer@cb­n­com­pass.ca

The Town of Bay Roberts brought down its 2014 mu­nic­i­pal op­er­at­ing bud­get on Dec. 10. Com­ing in at just over $7.3 mil­lion, there was no raise from last year’s to­tal.

Bay Roberts Mayor Philip Wood called the bud­get “very sound and fis­cally re­spon­si­ble.”

“It is one that is bal­anced and, for the sec­ond year in a row, does not re­quire coun­cil to bor­row to do so,” he said.

The town chose not to raise taxes, with its mill rate re­main­ing at seven per cent. To find out what you’ll be pay­ing in taxes in the new year, take the value your prop­erty has been as­sessed at, mul­ti­ply it by the new mill rate and then di­vide that num­ber by 1,000.

“It was very im­por­tant (not to raise the mill rate),” said Wood. “You still have nec­es­sary things to do, but at the same time, you have to re­mem­ber a lot of our peo­ple are liv­ing on a lim­ited in­come.”

The mayor said coun­cil is pleased with the bud­get. He also feels that the pub­lic will be re­cep­tive to the fi­nan­cial out­look for 2014.

When ad­dress­ing coun­cil, Wood in­di­cated this year’s bud­get placed an em­pha­sis on three ar­eas — pub­lic works, pub­lic safety and sport and recre­ation.

“Res­i­dents have asked coun­cil to put a pri­or­ity on im­prov­ing our roads and en­sur­ing we have ad­e­quate ditch­ing and drainage in place to deal with any flood­ing that may arise,” said Wood.

At a pub­lic fo­rum in the bud­get con­sul­ta­tion process, res­i­dents ex­pressed their de­sire to see more pedes­trian friendly ar­eas in the town.

Due to this, the town is com­mit­ted to im­prov­ing its in­fra­struc­ture through­out the com­mu­nity.

Some 63 new homes were im­proved this past year, and the as­sessed value of res­i­den­tial prop­er­ties in­crease from $367 mil­lion to $378 mil­lion.

Wood said the town’s com­mer­cial value stands at $65 mil­lion.

“Hope­fully in the very near fu­ture, we have some ma­jor news as it re­lates to our long-awaited busi­ness park and the com­mer­cial value will rise,” said the mayor.

Also con­tained in the bud­get was money for the de­sign of a new well­ness cen­tre and pool for the com­mu­nity.

“To pro­mote ac­tive liv­ing in our com­mu­nity, coun­cil will con­tinue its ef­forts in pro­vid­ing a va­ri­ety of re­cre­ational fa­cil­i­ties for its res­i­dents to avail of,” said Wood.

Refuse to pay

In his ad­dress to coun­cil, Wood ad­dressed the col­lec­tion of fire pro­tec­tion fees in the nearby, un­in­cor­po­rated com­mu­nity of Port de Grave.

Bay Roberts has been ask­ing res­i­dents to pay $75 a year to off­set any costs that come with us­ing Bay Roberts fire­fight­ing equip­ment and per­son­nel.

How­ever, Wood said the coun­cil “may have to look at pos­si­ble other ar­range­ments to col­lect monies from its res­i­dents.”

“Fail­ing this, the town may have to give up the ser­vice al­to­gether be­cause, de­spite our ef­forts, and the con­cerns and the pay­ment of fees from the vast ma­jor­ity of res­i­dents, there is still a core of peo­ple who sim­ply refuse to pay,” he said.

The mayor said this re­fusal has re­sulted in an out­stand­ing bal­ance that con­tin­ues to grow.

Ow­ing taxes

The town has had some suc­cess col­lect­ing out­stand­ing taxes.

“We will cer­tainly con­tinue to work with res­i­dents who fall in the hard­ship clause, how­ever, in or­der for the town to be suc­cess­ful and meet our com­mit­ments to all res­i­dents, it is es­sen­tial that we at­tempt to re­cover all out­stand­ing taxes,” said Wood.

Head­ing into 2014, the town is still owed some $1 mil­lion in out­stand­ing taxes.

Some high­lights from the bud­get in­clude:

• No in­crease rates;

in

busi­ness tax

It is one that is bal­anced and, for the sec­ond year in a row, does not re­quire coun­cil

to bor­row to do so.

• No in­crease sewer taxes;

• Coun­cil will pur­chase a re­fur­bished snorkel-pumper­lad­der truck for the Bay Roberts Vol­un­teer Fire Depart­ment;

• The pur­chase of a num­ber of emer­gency gen­er­a­tors for the com­mu­nity.

in wa­ter and

Cap­i­tal works wish list

Once Wood had brought down the bud­get and coun­cil ap­proved it unan­i­mously, the coun­cil con­tin­ued with its reg­u­lar meet­ing.

At the top of the busi­ness dis­cussed was a plan laid out by pub­lic works di­rec­tor Sean Elms.

He pre­sented coun­cil with a list of top pri­or­i­ties the town should con­sider ap­ply­ing for in the next round of cap­i­tal works fund­ing from the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment in 2015-2017.

At the top of the list was the pro­posed re­gional well­ness cen­tre at $25 mil­lion. Next, was $5 mil­lion for street im­prove­ments, fol­lowed by wa­ter and sewer up­grades at $3 mil­lion.

The to­tal cost of th­ese projects is just over $33 mil­lion. Un­der the prov­ince’s cur­rent cost-shar­ing agree­ment, the mu­nic­i­pal­ity is re­spon­si­ble for 20 per cent of the cap­i­tal cost. The nex step is to seek ap­proval for the projects from the prov­ince, with Bay Roberts on the hook for $6 mil­lion.

Coun­cil ap­proved the plan.

Photo by Ni­cholas Mercer/The Com­pass

Bay Roberts Mayor Philip Wood de­liv­ered the town’s 2014 mu­nic­i­pal op­er­at­ing bud­get dur­ing its reg­u­lar coun­cil meet­ing on Dec. 10.

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