New lo­cal school, RCMP build­ing

Taxes up in new bud­get; more money for mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY AN­DREW ROBIN­SON AND NI­CHOLAS MERCER

With so many in­fra­struc­ture projects on hold due to an oil­in­flu­enced de­crease in pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment rev­enue, Bay Roberts Mayor Philip Wood wasn’t sure what to ex­pect with last week’s bud­get.

Wood was hop­ing to hear good news about gov­ern­ment’s plan to re­place Co­ley’s Point Pri­mary, orig­i­nally an­nounced in last year’s bud­get. In the end, he did.

Co­ley’s Point in Bay Roberts is men­tioned among the com­mu­ni­ties set to ben­e­fit from $65.2 mil­lion in spend­ing for what the prov­ince calls “on­go­ing school con­struc­tion projects.” Ac­cord­ing to a bud­get doc­u­ment on in­fra­struc­ture spend­ing, $2 mil­lion will be spent in 2015-16 for work on the new school.

“I’m re­ally, re­ally pleased,” Wood told The Compass shortly af­ter he left the Con­fed­er­a­tion Build­ing, where gov­ern­ment un­veiled the new bud­get.

“And now to have ac­tual dol- lars to start the dig­ging and to put up the brick and mor­tar so to speak is fan­tas­tic news for the stu­dents, res­i­dents, and teach­ers of course.”

“It’s great news that moves the process along,” Port de Grave MHA Glenn Lit­tle­john told The Compass last Fri­day. “It is an­other step closer. There is still site prepa­ra­tion, but this is the next phase.”

Lit­tle­john said the site has been se­lected for the new school but could not di­vulge the ex­act lo­ca­tion, as the sale process has not been fi­nal­ized.

Mayor Wood was also pleased with the new fis­cal ar­range­ment for mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, which will see a fur­ther $46 mil­lion go to towns over the next three years through a par­tial re­bate of the pro­vin­cial por­tion of HST and by shar­ing pro­vin­cial gas tax rev­enues. Mu­nic­i­pal op­er­at­ing grants will also be main­tained.

“The HST one has re­ally ir­ri­tated me over the years,” he said. “We are a form of gov­ern­ment, and here we are pay­ing in. The fed­eral gov­ern­ment re­bates ours.”

Taxes

A ma­jor topic of dis­cus­sion fol­low­ing the bud­get’s re­lease was the two-per­cent­age-point in­crease to HST. Op­po­si­tion par­ties sug­gest the move will hit work­ing fam­i­lies hard, and rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the busi­ness sec­tor raised con­cerns the move will neg­a­tively im­pact con­sumer spend­ing.

Gov­ern­ment said it was tough de­ci­sion to make but also nec­es­sary in light of the prov­ince’s sub­stan­tial deficit of $1.1 bil­lion — a deficit that’s ex­pected to con­tinue for the next five years.

In Whit­bourne, the lo­cal RCMP de­tach­ment re­ceived no­tice it will soon have a new build­ing to work in. A to­tal of $3.5 mil­lion was al­lo­cated for three new de­tach­ment build­ings, in­clud­ing one for Whit­bourne.

Stick­ing with jus­tice, new court of­fi­cers were also an­nounced in the bud­get for St. John’s and Har­bour Grace.

The prov­ince ac­knowl­edged in the bud­get on­go­ing work to com­plete the new long-term care fa­cil­ity in Car­bon­ear, the Pla­cen­tia lift bridge re­place­ment project, and the new adult ad­dic­tions treat­ment cen­tre in Har­bour Grace.

A spokesman with the Depart­ment of Mu­nic­i­pal Af­fairs also told The Compass last Fri­day the money to build a new sta­dium in Har­bour Grace is still very much in play, which bodes well for a plan orig­i­nally an­nounced in 2011.

A sec­tion of the Trans Canada High­way from Sal­monier Line to Whit­bourne will also be repaved on a cost-shared ba­sis with the fed­eral gov­ern­ment.

COMPASS FILE PHOTO

The prov­ince has com­mit­ted $2 mil­lion in its 2015-16 bud­get for work to re­place Co­ley’s Point Pri­mary in Bay Roberts.

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