Pla­cen­tia does more with less in 2017 bud­get

Loss of rev­enue from Vale forces town to scale back in­fra­struc­ture spend­ing

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY AN­DREW ROBIN­SON TC ME­DIA

The Town of Pla­cen­tia will spend a lit­tle less on cap­i­tal in­fra­struc­ture in the com­ing new year to make up for a loss of rev­enue, but it still has plenty of new ideas in the pipe­line for 2017.

The town passed the bud­get by a 5-1 vote at the Nov. 22 coun­cil meet­ing. Coun. Noella Collins voted against it. Ac­cord­ing to min­utes for the meet­ing, she be­lieves the town should take over garbage col­lec­tion from East­ern Waste Man­age­ment and also has con­cerns about the ser­vices Pla­cen­tia pro­vides to Ar­gen­tia.

The bal­anced bud­get will see the mu­nic­i­pal­ity spend al­most $5.8 mil­lion in 2017. That’s down slightly from the $6.0-mil- lion bud­get passed for 2016. The tax agree­ment in place with Vale ex­pired in 2016 as the com­pany’s op­er­a­tions in the area winded down, ac­count­ing for a sig­nif­i­cant chunk of the town’s de­cline in rev­enue.

Ac­cord­ing to Mayor Wayne Power Jr., Pla­cen­tia has ad­justed some of its prac­tices for main­te­nance, rentals and the use of con­sul­tants in or­der to re­duce some ex­penses. The bud­get for cap­i­tal in­fra­struc­ture was also slashed from $1.36 mil­lion to $1.06 mil­lion for 2017.

One no­table change for 2017 in­volves the hir­ing of a re­cre­ation and com­mu­nity-pro­gram­ming man­ager. The re­cre­ation master plan iden­ti­fied the need for year-round re­cre­ation and well­ness pro­gram­ming, and the mayor be­lieves this new hire will ad­dress that.

“By putting a fo­cused per­son and fo­cused di­rec­tion there, we’re hop­ing to be able to ac­com­plish that and pro­vide good re­cre­ation ser­vice to all our res­i­dents,” said Power, adding the town will likely ad­ver­tise for the po­si­tion in Jan­uary.

The in­fra­struc­ture re­place­ment we’re hop­ing to do in Dunville next year is a part of that, and we’ll hope­fully move on that in the spring. Mayor Wayne Power Jr.

Mil rates for res­i­den­tial and com­mer­cial prop­er­ties and water and sewer ser­vice will re­main the same in 2017, de­spite the fact costs associated with the lat­ter ser­vices con­tinue to rise.

“The ap­petite was to main­tain that un­til we were able to move for­ward fur­ther with im­prove­ments to the water sup­ply that we’ve been plan­ning for the last cou­ple of years.”

On the topic of water, the town is set to re­place 200 ser­vice lines in Dunville.

“We have had long­stand­ing is­sues with the Dunville water qual­ity,” said the mayor, not­ing a water sup­ply re­view was com­mis­sioned in 2013. The re­view in­cluded rec­om­men­da­tions the town con­tin­ues to work through with the help of other lev­els of gov­ern­ment.

“The in­fra­struc­ture re­place­ment we’re hop­ing to do in Dunville next year is a part of that, and we’ll hope­fully move on that in the spring,” Power said.

One new fea­ture of the town’s tax struc­ture is the in­tro­duc­tion of a va­cant land tax of $150. New fees are also in place for af­ter-hours ser­vice for non-emer­gency water shut offs and for water and sewer hook ups. Those ap­ply­ing for new de­vel­op­ment per­mits will also pay a 100 per cent re­fund­able front land­scap­ing de­posit to en­sur­ing that work is prop­erly com­pleted.

The town is pur­chas­ing a new fire truck in 2017 and in­tro­duc­ing an au­to­mated no­ti­fi­ca­tion sys­tem for emer­gency no­tices. A smart­phone app to share in­for­ma­tion with res­i­dents and the gen­eral pub­lic is also in the works.

“That’s go­ing to be of use to res­i­dents for lo­cal in­for­ma­tion, and we’re hop­ing tourists will be able to use it as well to learn more about the com­mu­nity, places to stay, places to eat and that type of thing.”

TC ME­DIA FILE PHOTO

Pla­cen­tia Mayor Wayne Power Jr.

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