Splash pad part of Bay Roberts budget
Mil rates unchanged as town prepares to invest in recreation infrastructure
The Town of Bay Roberts held its final council meeting of 2016 last month. It gave the town’s deputy mayor the opportunity to unveil the 2017 municipal budget. The town has a lot of plans for the new year. Amongst other items on the horizon is a new splash pad for kids to enjoy at the Wilbur Sparkes Recreation Complex.
The Town of Bay Roberts outlined some of its spending priorities for 2017 at the Dec. 13 council meeting.
Council unanimously approved its latest municipal budget, with spending set to increase ever so slightly from $7.4 million in 2016 to $7.5 million next year. Mil rates for property and business tax will not change.
“In 2017 we will continue to provide the necessary core services to our taxpayers, we will make major investments to our recreation infrastructure and continue with our tourism and beautification initiatives,” finance committee chairman Walter Yetman said during the last council meeting of 2016.
The big news for people who take advantage of the town’s recreation facilities is the amount of borrowing the town will engage in for capital projects.
By the end of 2017, Bay Roberts will be finished with almost 70 per cent of the upgrades planned in its Recreation Master Plan for the Wilbur Sparkes Recreation Complex. Work will be carried out on a splash pad, ball field and parking lot. To address inclusivity, a rubber surface will be installed at the playground.
The town will borrow $1.4 million to complete this work. The municipality currently has a debt-to-service ratio of 6.4 per cent. The Recreation Master Plan was first adopted in 2014.
The town is also going to set up a new washroom at the Butlerville ball field and upgrade playground equipment.
On the public works side of things, the town will purchase a new dump truck and asphalt recycler. Bay Roberts is set to act on the traffic study by replacing lights and creating crosswalks at the Bareneed and Conception Bay Highway intersection, something Deputy Mayor Yetman described as “much needed and long overdue.”
Water, sewer and roadwork projects are also planned for the new year, with Country Road, Station Road and Peppers Road among the areas earmarked for improvements.
The local fire department will receive increased funding to purchase new equipment and look after training and maintenance costs. The Bay Arena will undergo roof repairs, and the last bit of work on the Goose Pond Trail should conclude in 2017.
Some adjustments to fee structures were introduced in the budget. Bed and breakfast and vacation homeowners will be charged a flat fee of $500 to operate in Bay Roberts. The town also increased the water and sewer hook-up charge from $1,200 to $2,000. Unlike previous years, the town will cover the cost of materials for this service.
The budget includes a new incentive for property owners to dispose of dilapidated structures. Bay Roberts will offer up to $1,000 (in the form of a tax credit applied to outstanding balances) to cover the cost of demolition.
There were 42 new housing starts in 2016, a figure Yetman said the town was comfortable with in light of an overall downturn in the province’s economy. Housing starts in Bay Roberts have declined considerably in recent years, with 68 reported in 2014 and 51 in 2015.
Mayor Philip Wood offered his thanks to those who helped prepare the budget.
“We’ve had a number of meetings on it, and I commend all who’ve been involved — all of council, all staff, and of course the finance committee, for their efforts on this.”
Bay Roberts Deputy Mayor Walter Yetman says the town will continue to look after core services and investment in the community through its latest municipal budget.
Left: Bay Roberts is preparing to set up a splash pad at the Wilbur Sparkes Recreation Complex.