Bay Roberts tops CFIB re­port

Car­bon­ear, Pla­cen­tia also rank high on fis­cal sus­tain­abil­ity

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

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.

Com­pass file photo

Bay Roberts Mayor Philip Wood.

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