By Chris Lewis | Dec. 22, 2020
The Town of Bay Roberts will be operating with a budget of $8.6 million next year, up slightly from 2020.
The budget was presented last week by Deputy Mayor Walter Yetman who began by thanking Town staff for their work during the pandemic.
The 2021 budget sees an increase of about $800,000 in spending and revenues, which Yetman attributed to increased capital investments and the Safe Restart funding provided to municipalities from the federal government.
Residents and commercial property owners will see no tax increases again this year, with residential and commercial mil rates remaining at 6.5 and 7 mils, respectively.
“We are pleased to announce a balanced budget for the upcoming fiscal year and will require borrowing for our portion of Multi Year Capital Works funding,” Yetman said. “We continue to leverage the Multi Year Capital Works funding to allow significant infrastructure investment while minimizing our net debt.”
Yetman reflected on some of the projects carried out over the last year including road work on Whitney Street, Bishops and Peppers Road , we well as much-needed recreation upgrades. Yetman said over the last three-years the town has seen some $10-million worth of infrastructure improvements — most of which were paid for using the cost-shared multi-year capital works funding program offered by the province.
A big piece of work — the Shearstown Road project — will carry over into 2021, including the installation of sidewalks and storm sewer upgrades. That portion of the project, Yetman said, is already tendered and will begin in the spring of next year. Yetman said planned work for the intersection on Shearstown Road is in the engineering stage and will go to tender soon, with the hope of beginning work in the spring. That phase will cost some $1.5-million, with the money coming from the 2021 capital works budget and borrowing.
Some $430,000 from the Town’s gas tax allocation will fund another big construction project next year – sidewalks along the Conception Bay Highway from Shearstown Road to Barrack’s Lane, as well as a small section near the soccer field to complete a loop around the recreation complex and the town’s three schools, including the new Bay Roberts Primary.
“All of these projects contribute to better and safer transportation routes, pedestrian safety, and upgraded drainage systems,” Yetman said. “These improvements are due to council’s commitment to invest in infrastructure upgrades throughout the Town.”
Council has also allocated $305,000 to purchase a new rescue truck for the Bay Roberts Volunteer Fire Department.
Erosion of the Shoreline Heritage Trail will also be addressed next year. Yetman said some repairs are desperately needed, and the Town has submitted a funding application under the government’s COVID-19 stimulus program to cover the costs.
“The most important question is, how do we pay for all these very important services, projects, and purchases?” Yetman said. “The main source is the collection of municipal taxes in the form of residential, business and water and sewer taxes. As a council, we cannot stress enough the importance of paying your taxes.”
Yetman said the Town will be increasing its efforts to collect tax arrears from, which could ultimately mean the interruption of services and tax sales for people who don’t pay. Still, incentives such as interest relief and payment plans will continue to be put in place.
“As we move into the New Year with the pandemic still surrounding us, we can only hope and plan for some normalcy in our daily lives,” said Yetman. “We as a council have budgeted and planned for what we would hope to be a typical budget year. We are prepared to adjust and change if the situation dictates that we need to do so.”