By Patrick Newhook/January 13, 2022
Mayor Don Coombs is confident that Harbour Grace residents won’t be hurt by a cutback in municipal spending this year.
On December 15, Harbour Grace presented its budget for 2022. It included a 1 per cent cutback across all departments. That included the fire department.
Coombs said council had to make difficult decisions and cooperate with all departments to make the budget work.
“We realised that we got to be able to pay our bills, so we looked at the operation and we streamlined it as much as we could for this year,” said the mayor. “And we came up with that (10 per cent cut) after the department heads brought it in and we needed that. So they did the budget themselves and presented it to finance for council and it is something we’ve got to live with. This is a budget for the taxpayers of the town. There are no tax increases and what had to be done had to be done. We have to start paying down our dept and getting things back in order, and, you know, all council and department heads were absolutely great at it.”
But making a 10 per cent cut wasn’t easy, Coombs admitted, especially to places such as the fire brigade.
“Nobody wanted to cut it back, but we explained it to him, the chief, it had to be done and there’s ways to get it done and they brought back a budget which showed the 10 per cent (reduction). It’s not only the fire department it’s our snow clearing, it’s everything else. We need everyone on our side… The 10 per cent cuts won’t have any effect on the town, whatsoever. There’s no loss of service to anybody.”
The fire department, meanwhile, has been given the responsibility again for collecting fire protection fees from the residents of Bristol’s Hope, something it had been looking to see reinstated for some time. For a couple of years, the Town had taken over the management of the collection.
“The town of Harbour Grace entered into an agreement in 2013 to collect the money from the community, the local service district of Bristol’s Hope, and now that’s being collected by the fire department again which is giving them some more revenue.”
Despite the cutback, Coombs said he is proud of the budget.
“I feel really good about it about it that we don’t have to increase taxes, we won’t see service interruptions, and everybody took it and worked on it,” said Coombs. “It’s good for the taxpayers of the town.”