Splash pad part of Bay Roberts bud­get

Mil rates un­changed as town pre­pares to in­vest in re­cre­ation in­fra­struc­ture

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY AN­DREW ROBIN­SON TC ME­DIA ed­i­tor@cb­n­com­pass.ca

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.”

TC ME­DIA FILE PHOTO

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.

JOE GIBBONS/TC ME­DIA FILE PHOTO

Left: Bay Roberts is pre­par­ing to set up a splash pad at the Wil­bur Sparkes Re­cre­ation Com­plex.

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