Clarke’s Beach set bud­get

2014 bud­get sur­passes $1 mil­lion for first time

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY TERRY ROBERTS ed­i­tor@cb­n­com­pass.ca

Last week, the Town of Clakre’s Beach adopted its 2014 mu­nic­i­pal op­er­at­ing bud­get. It was the first ma­jor act for a coun­cil that un­der­went a sig­nif­i­cant over­haul af­ter the mu­nic­i­pal elec­tions, which only re­turned Mayor Betty Moore the cham­bers. Coun. Nor­man Hillier, a for­mer bank man­ager, was tasked with crunch­ing the num­bers around the town’s fi­nan­i­cal sit­u­a­tion.

An in­crease in tax rev­enue from new res­i­den­tial prop­er­ties, a boost in the prov­ince’s mu­nic­i­pal op­er­at­ing grant and higher as­sessed prop­erty val­ues has re­sulted in yet an­other marked in­crease in rev­enues for the Town of Clarke’s Beach.

The new coun­cil adopted the 2014 mu­nic­i­pal op­er­at­ing bud­get for the town on Dec. 4, and it was a mile­stone.

For the first time in its his­tory, the ledger bal­anced at more than $1 mil lion. To be ex­act, the to­tal amount of rev­enues and ex­pen­di­tures is pro­jected at $1,003,238.

That’s an sig­nif­i­cant in­crease from this past year, when the bud­get bal­anced at just un­der $910,000, and well up from the 2012 fig­ure of $808,494.

“Things are look­ing re­ally good,” said Coun. Nor­man Hillier.

The bud­get was one of the first sig­nif­i­cant or­ders of busi­ness for the new coun­cil, which in­cludes six new mem­bers, in­clud­ing Hillier. Mayor Betty Moore was the only can­di­date to win re-elec­tion on Sept. 26.

Hillier said the bud­get was pre­pared by all mem­bers of coun­cil; not just a fi­nance com­mit­tee. He said this was done to give all coun­cil­lors a say in the process, and though there was some good de­bate, Hillier said it re­sulted in an unan­i­mous vote of ap­proval.

The bud­get in­cludes some pos­i­tive trends, most no­tably the fact that tax rates will re­main un­changed. The town’s tax rate for home­own­ers, at 6.5 mills, is among the low­est in the re­gion.

The town’s debt pay­ments will also be slashed sig­nif­i­cantly in 2014 when a se­ries of loans ma­ture. Hillier said the pay­ment of these loans will free up some $100,000-plus for other in­vest­ments into the town.

He noted that coun­cil is also re­spond­ing to a call from vot­ers dur­ing the cam­paign for a re­newed em­pha­sis on re­cre­ation. He said money has been al­lo­cated for up­grades to the town’s play­ground and ball field, in­clud­ing the in­stal­la­tion of more light­ing.

Some funds have been set aside to be­gin the process of hav­ing the train sta­tion de­clared a her­itage site, with the long-term goal to con­vert it into a mu­seum. The town owns the build­ing, and is in the pro­cess­ing of ac­quir­ing ti­tle to the land as well.

Hillier said the sta­tion, which has been the cen­tre of some con­tro­versy over the years, will re­main in its cur­rent lo­ca­tion.

As for in­fra­struc­ture, the town has ap­plied for cap­i­tal works fund­ing to carry out wa­ter and sewer up­grades on Wil­sonville Av­enue and An­thony Road, at a to­tal cost of $900,000-plus. If ap­proved by the pro­vin­cial govern­ment, the town will be re­spon­si­ble for 10 per cent of the cap­i­tal costs.

The town has also al­lo­cated some $30,000 for im­prov­ing emer­gency pre­pared­ness, and will spend about $28,000 in fire pro­tec­tion fees to the Bay de Grave Fire Depart­ment.

As for re­mu­ner­a­tion for coun­cil­lors, it re­mains un­changed at about $2,200 each an­nu­ally.

Hillier said coun­cil­lors felt it was

Clarke’s Beach town coun­cil­lor Nor­man Hillier

un­wise to in­crease re­mu­ner­a­tion so early in their four-year term.

Hillier com­mended town clerk Joan Wil­cox for her lead­er­ship and guid­ance dur­ing t he bud­get process.

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