Bay Roberts fo­cus­ing on back taxes

Town says ed­u­ca­tion key to lift sta­tion prob­lems

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

The Town of Bay Roberts is stream­lin­ing part of its tax col­lec­tion pol­icy.

This is af­ter a change to the num­ber of no­tices given to delin­quents was ap­proved at the town’s reg­u­lar coun­cil meet­ing on Jan. 28.

The tax col­lec­tion pol­icy drops its num­ber of for­mal no­tices from three to two. Prior to the change, Bay Roberts sends out quar­terly no­tices to all of its res­i­dents, along with no­tices to es­pe­cially strong of­fend­ers.

“The au­di­tor has said it is some­thing we should pay more at­ten­tion to,” said chief ad­min­is­tra­tive of­fi­cer Nigel Black. “We tried to de­vise a pol­icy that is trimmed down as much as we could be­cause we do have limited staff and abil­ity to try and col­lect.”

He said the change in pol­icy would not re­quire the hir­ing of ad­di­tional per­son­nel at this time, al­though it was not ruled out. “That is an op­tion as well,” said Black. The changes work like this. Those who have not paid will re­ceive a 30day no­tice, fol­lowed by a 10-day no­tice and then fi­nal no­tice.

At that point, the town would be free to cut off cer­tain ser­vices sup­plied to those in ar­rears.

This ac­cepted change elim­i­nates the 10-day no­tice.

Black said the change was made in an ef­fort to “sim­plify” the col­lec­tion process.

“It’s an at­tempt to make it more ef­fi­cient,” he said.

This is not the first time Bay Roberts has tar- geted tax delin­quents. In Jan­uary 2012, the town ini­ti­ated a pol­icy that would see it col­lect two per cent in­ter­est per month on out­stand­ing bal­ances. That started in July of the same year.

“About two years ago, we started a pol­icy, and we did have a lot of suc­cess col­lect­ing,” said Mayor Philip Wood. “Even if you have 95 per cent of your peo­ple pay­ing, which is good, there is still five per cent. The five per cent over 20 and 30 years adds up.”

As it stands, the town is owed an ac­cu­mu­la­tive $1 mil­lion in back taxes.

Wood es­ti­mated the town’s col­lec­tion rate stands be­tween 90 and 95 per cent.

“Still that, five or 10 per cent does not be long adding up,” he said.

“It’s a sub­stan­tial amount of money at the end of the day,” added Black.

Lift sta­tion prob­lems

Mean­while, the town has been ex­pe­ri­enc­ing prob­lems with its lift sta­tions.

Along with res­i­dents that have had trou­ble with their sys­tems be­ing backed up, the town has been pulling loads of trou­ble­some items from its sta­tions.

At the meet­ing, di­rec­tor of pub­lic works Sean Elms brought along three clear plas­tic bags. Each was filled with items flushed down toi­lets by res­i­dents. They in­cluded dish­cloths, Swif­fer pads, pa­per tow­els, gloves, mop heads and other ma­te­ri­als that are not meant to en­ter the town’s sys­tem. “Only toi­let pa­per should be flushed,” he said. When these small ob­jects are put into the sys­tem, they cause ma­jor headaches for Elms

“It’s an at­tempt to make it more ef­fi­cient.” — Nigel Black

and his crews, he ex­plained.

As these ma­te­ri­als are flushed, it starts to build up and be­gins to clog the pumps at lift sta­tions.

Elms said if one pump be­comes clogged it starts a chain re­ac­tion along the line and causes other pumps to clog.

“This is what’s in our sew­ers. This is what’s cost­ing us thou­sands and thou­sands of ex­tra dol­lars to get cleared,” he said.

Clear­ing the sys­tem

It is not just dis­carded items caus­ing prob­lems at lift sta­tions in the com­mu­ni­ties, es­pe­cially in re­cent weeks.

The Con­cep­tion Bay North re­gion has ex­pe­ri­enced pe­ri­ods of heavy rain. This has caused some res­i­dents who have sub­mersible pumps to di­rect wa­ter into the town’s san­i­tary sewer.

“I was look­ing at a lift sta­tion, and we had it open and were clean­ing it and all of the wa­ter com­ing into it was com­pletely clear,” said Elms. “Way back when I guess, it was OK for peo­ple to hook up their weep­ing tile and their pumps and put it into your san­i­tary sewer.

“That’s not a good thing be­cause it fills our san­i­tary sewer.”

At this par­tic­u­lar lift sta­tion, the town had three vac­uum trucks work­ing at the same time to clear the wa­ter and it did very lit­tle to re­duce lev­els.

The coun­cil agreed that ed­u­ca­tion is a part of the is­sue, as well as the size of the pumps found at sta­tions.

“I feel that we need to get the word out (on ma­te­ri­als),” said Deputy Mayor Wal­ter Yet­man.

Black said the town is com­plet­ing a fea­si­bil­ity study into pur­chas­ing larger pumps.

Works projects

The town is wait­ing on word from the Depart­ment of Fish­eries and Oceans on the sta­tus of two projects.

One be­ing the gut in Long Pond on Gul­ley Road in Co­ley’s Point. A res­i­dent has ex­pressed con­cern about po­ten­tial flood­ing be­cause of its widen­ing. The town needs a per­mit from DFO to com­plete the work nec­es­sary to ad­dress these con­cerns.

The other project per­tains to Rocky Pond. Res­i­dents are con­cerned with the wa­ter lev­els there.

The town is look­ing at re­open­ing the brook run­ning be­tween Rockey Pond and Beaver Pond, and would need per­mis­sion from DFO be­fore start­ing the work.

Hous­ing sta­tis­tics

Bay Roberts has started the year strong in the res­i­den­tial hous­ing depart­ment.

Coun­cil has ap­proved three new build­ing ap­pli­ca­tions in 2014.

Photo by Ni­cholas Mercer/The Com­pass

Bay Roberts di­rec­tor of pub­lic works Sean Elms brought along these sam­ples to coun­cil on Jan. 28. They show what town em­ploy­ees have been pulling out of lift sta­tions in re­cent weeks.

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