Clarke’s Beach set budget
2014 budget surpasses $1 million for first time
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.