Bay Roberts tax rates hold steady in latest budget
Tax rates will stay the same and an increased emphasis will be placed on capital investment as part of the Town of Bay Roberts’ budget for 2015.
Council unanimously approved the budget at its final meeting of 2014, held Dec. 9 at the town hall.
Overall spending will be down slightly in the 2015 budget, with expenditures set at approximately $7 million. For 2014, that figure was just over $7.3 million.
Deputy Mayor Walter Yetman, chair of the town’s finance committee, said the town is putting itself in a good position by once again avoiding the need to borrow money to produce a balanced budget. It will be the third year in a row that’s been the case.
However, Yetman also noted there are challenges still ahead for the town of just under 6,000 residents.
“We’ve all been around and talked about the really good things that are happening and the responsible things we are doing, but we have to note we have challenges ahead.”
He noted the need to do a better job on tax collection. The town is currently owed $1.2 million in outstanding taxes. With revenues from the residential sector down, Yetman said the town must also find ways to increase its revenue.
For now though, he said it makes sense to remain fiscally responsible.
“It’s a challenge sitting back and trying to cut all these well needed items off the list, but year after year, we realize we’re improving our position, and when we do go for that large purchase or a major project, or when we do need something that we have to get right away, it’s going to be a lot easier for us to do it.”
One area the town is prioritizing with its latest budget is infrastructure and equipment spending. A budget allocation of just over $1.5 million for capital investments is the largest figure ever allocated for purchases of that kind.
New sidewalks and roads will take up much of that capital investment total — $875,000. The town will also purchase a new garbage truck. A report from the town CAO and director of public works found that tendering waste and curbside collection is less cost efficient than handling the service internally.
The local fire hall will benefit from some building upgrades, and improvements will also be made to the Wilbur Sparkes Recreation Complex.
The town will continue to offer discounts for taxes paid in advance of the March 31 deadline — five per cent for most residents and 10 per cent for seniors.
One new incentive in this budget for seniors living on a low income will let them go through an application process to possibly extend the tax deadline for getting a discount.
The collection of fire protection fees from Port de Grave and Bareneed is still an issue for the town. In light of that fact, it’s elected to increase the rate for homeowners in those areas from $75 to $100. New rates are also in place for small boats and pleasure craft ($100), large boats and fishing vessels ($150), and businesses ($200).
Deputy Mayor Walter Yetman discusses the Town of Bay Roberts municipal budget for 2015 during council’s final meeting for 2014, held Dec. 9.