Bay Roberts tops CFIB report
Carbonear, Placentia also rank high on fiscal sustainability
A report from the Confederation Of Independent Business (CFIB) places Bay Roberts at the top among 20 Newfoundland and Labrador communities when it comes to fiscal sustainability.
The Conception Bay North town was ranked first based on its real operating spending per capital. According to the report, it is the only community at minus1 per cent to record a real decline in real operating spending from 2002-2012.
This is the percentage of growth in operating spending over the 11-year period adjusted for inflation and population growth.
“It certainly puts Bay Roberts in a favourable light,” said Mayor Philip Wood.
The report focuses on communities with a population of more than 3,500. It took into account the 11-year period along with the amount a resident paid for the operations of their local government in 2012.
Bay Roberts finished above St. John’s (19th), Mount Pearl (13th) and Labrador City (20th).
“It reflects well on our staff,” said Wood. “There is an awful lot of demands on councils.
“It shows we’ve been prudent in our spending and spending within our means.”
Residents in Bay Roberts paid an average of $679 for town operations in 2012.
“It shows we’ve been prudent in our spending and spending within our means.
— Bay Roberts Mayor Philip Wood
Carbonear, Placentia included
Bay Roberts was not the only community in the Trinity-Conception-Placentia region to get an early mention in the report.
Being the only other two local towns with the required population, Carbonear and Placentia ranked third and fourth, respectively.
According to the report, Carbonear saw an eight per cent growth in real operating spending, with residents paying $826 on average for municipal services in 2012.
Meanwhile in Placentia, the town’s operating spending per capita growth was nine per cent and residents paid $914 for municipal services. Not sitting well with MNL The ink had not dried on the CFIB report before Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador (MNL) released a statement taking the document to task.
“Their assessment that inflation and population growth is a reasonable benchmark for municipal spending is wrong,” MNL president Churence Rogers said in a statement. “Critical infrastructure like water treatment needs to be replaced and critical services need to be expanded or continued. “The work still needs to be done.” MNL said the report contains enough errors to cast doubt on the integrity of its findings. It accused the CFIB of misquoting its own 2008 report.
Rogers said the numbers produced have been done so to suit the best interests of the group.
“If the CFIB wants residential property tax payers to pay more so their members can pay less, then they should just say so,” he said. “Quite frankly, the CFIB has put little thought and effort into the Newfoundland and Labrador context and their report is nothing more than a nuisance to the process.”
Wood said there has to be a measure of restraint when looking at reports such as the CFIB one. Each town is different and each vary in the circumstances that dictate their spending.
“One thing that can knock someone’s budget out of whack is infrastructure if something happens,” said Wood. “I think it is important to put everything in perspective.”
Starting the conversation
Another positive can be gleamed from the CFIB report, according to Wood. “There is a need for new fiscal framework agreement to be put in place,” he said.
This has been a message Wood and the Bay Roberts council has been preaching for sometime, specifically, a rebate on the harmonized sales tax paid by municipal governments.
“The federal government doesn’t pay it, the provincial government doesn’t pay it, why should municipal government?” said Wood.
Bay Roberts believes its not the only town that feels there is a need for a new agreement.
“I think this report clearly indicates that there is a need … because there is something that needs to be done,” said Wood.
Bay Roberts Mayor Philip Wood.