Tax rates unchanged in Bay Roberts
Town lays out capital works plans for coming years
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.
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;
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.
Bay Roberts Mayor Philip Wood delivered the town’s 2014 municipal operating budget during its regular council meeting on Dec. 10.