By Craig Westcott/November 18, 2021
CBS council is facing a harder challenge than usual this time in crafting a budget for the new year, Mayor Darrin Bent admitted Tuesday. And it’s all because of the inflation that is driving up the cost of goods and services across the economy.
But Bent told taxpayers not to worry.
“As the deputy mayor (Ward 3 councillor Andrea Goose who is also council’s finance committee chairperson) mentioned off the top,” said Bent, “we have been hard at work in budget talks almost right out of the gate since the election… It is a challenge this year especially as everybody has seen the cost of everything go up. It’s no different for a municipality. We face increased costs for everything from fuel to supplies to anything that we want to build. It means that we’re faced with more challenges.”
This past year’s spending plan weighed in at $37.2 million. Estimates of the rate of inflation vary according to which economist you ask. Fuel prices, which influence the cost of nearly everything that is transported, are at an all time high.
The Town is even facing higher costs for services from sister municipalities, Bent noted.
“We buy our water from the City of St. John’s and the cost of that has gone up just about every year for the past five or six years, yet we’ve been able to hold the line on those fees,” Bent said. “I’m not sure how long that can last, but we’re looking at pretty well everything. And we’re also looking internally as well where some of the things that we wanted to do, well maybe we might have to put them off to make sure we’re giving the best budget and the most sustainable approach to how we manage our town over the next year.”
Bent added that when council prepares its annual budget it doesn’t look at just the year ahead, but also several years out.
“It’s an important process, it’s a difficult process, but this council is up to the challenge and the staff here have been fantastic with its support and answering the questions,” the mayor said. “So, our town hopes to have a date for a budget very, very soon.”