Spaniard’s Bay ups mil rate to counter drop in other revenues

By Mark Squibb/February 3, 2022

The Town of Spaniard’s Bay has increased its residential mil rate from 6 mils to 6.5 mils but still expects a drop in revenue of $159,795 over last year’s budget.

“The reason for this decrease is that the COVID stimulus included in 2021 budget was a one-year item, and the gas tax annual allotment has now stabilized, as there are no longer top ups, as we experienced in 2020 and 2021,” explained deputy mayor and finance chairperson Tammy Oliver, who presented the budget in a special meeting January 20.

The increase in the mil rate will bring in about $70,000 in additional revenue.

The minimum property tax will remain at $480. The water and sewer rate also remains unchanged at $360 per unit.

The Basic Business Tax will remain at 10.5 mills.

The water and sewer rate for schools has also increased to $15 per occupant, up from $9.75.

“This minor increase will bring our rates in line with neighboring communities,” said Oliver.

In total, the town is anticipating $2.52 million in revenue, and have balanced projected expenditures accordingly. Last year’s budget was balanced at $ 2.68 million.

During her presentation, Oliver spoke to a number of budget items.

One of the first items she addressed, following the presentation of rates and fees, was council’s plans for remuneration.

“The Municipal Councilors Renumeration Act permits towns to allocate two percent of local revenue for renumeration,” explained Oliver. “This amount is estimated for 2022 at $42,000. Travel and training have been reduced by half in 2022 to provide the funding to update electronic meeting and communication devices. Currently, the iPads that we are using are becoming obsolete, and require replacement.”

The Town has budgeted $9,000 for the purchase of new iPads for council use.

The administration budget has increased by over $21,000. This is due, said Oliver, to the rising cost of insurance (forecast at $51,000, $3,000 more than last year) and an increase in wages and associated costs, which have gone up some $8,300 over last year.

The Community Services budget remains unchanged at $26,300.

Fire protection budget sits at $48,100 — some $1,650 less than last year. Council will still contribute $1,000 to the annual firefighters’ appreciation banquet and will also provide a computerized record management system. Currently, council is in the process of tendering a used fire truck to replace the current, 22-year-old truck. This will not show as an itemized line in the operating budget, as $100,000 in funding has already been approved through provincial Fire and Emergency Services. The town will use gas tax funding to cover its share of $50,000.

Fleet operation and maintenance sits at $65,700, $3,000 less than last year.

Road Transportation has also increased $10,400, for a budgeted total of $169,600.

Oliver said this increase was caused by pandemic related issues, increases in salaries, and increases in medical insurance.

Snow removal has increased $7,500 over last year, landing at $159,000.

“The largest portion of this increase is attributed to the $6,000 increase in the cost of salt,” said Oliver.

Street Lighting is budgeted at $110,000, on par with last year.

Water and Sewer is budgeted at $270,100, an increase of $27,800 over 2021.

“The most significant increase in this category is for miscellaneous repairs and leaks and pump repair and replacement,” said Oliver. “2021 was a difficult year with numerous leaks, and unfortunately, we expect this trend to continue in 2022.”

Among other increases, even the price of garbage collection will rise. The town has garbage collection budgeted at $320,200, almost $27,000 higher than last year.

“Wages in this category is forecasted at $10,600 over the previous year, and garbage collection and disposal fees are scheduled to increase by $13,868, due to the increase of tipping fees at the Robin Hood Bay dumpsite,” said Oliver.

One of the largest increases was in Community Improvement and Development, budgeted at $54,500, an increase of $40,000 from last year’s budget.

“The Town has engaged these services to put together a comprehensive plan aimed at tourism related projects,” said Oliver. “These projects would include items such as park development, walking trails, and similar items. Aside from costs associated with the preliminary work, money spent from this category will be used to cover the town’s share of the project, that will be amply subsidized by another government department or agency such as ACOA or the CBDC.”

Recreation sits at $57,100, some $8,500 less than last year.

The town has also applied for road reconstruction and paving at Pond Side Road in Tilton, which has been approved. That work is expected to be completed in the spring. The Town has also applied for funding for paving and road reconstruction at Rectory Avenue and Casey’s Lane.

Council will also begin the process of creating a secondary access to Valley Road from Crane’s Road. The creation of the new road will take several years, and Oliver said it is being done to improve fire protection in the area, as well as provide a route for future sewer services. The town has budgeted $25,000 towards the work this year.

The town has also budgeted $45,000 to continue the process of installing water and sewer along the first half kilometer of Big Pond Road.

Two items funded through the COVID stimulus program, the lighting upgrade for the municipal centre and depot as well as renovation work to town offices, will continue during 2022.

Two other projects are carrying over from 2021 to be completed this year — $35,000 to complete the exterior of the municipal centre, and $25,000 to finish culvert and ditching work on Valley Road.

Council unanimously approved both the budget and the rates and fees structure.

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