New local school, RCMP building
Taxes up in new budget; more money for municipalities
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.”
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.
The province has committed $2 million in its 2015-16 budget for work to replace Coley’s Point Primary in Bay Roberts.