BAIE VERTE, NL - There will be no tax increase for Baie Verte residents and business owners in 2018 as the town's budget rises to just over $1.8 million.
The overall budget represents about a $68,000 increase over last year, despite a significant reduction in the town's debt. The residential and commercial mil rates remained at 8.5.
Much of that increase can be attributed to recreational investment and an increase in spending to the fire department.
Mayor Brandon Philpott said council approved $50,000 toward operating and maintenance costs of acquiring the former Baie Verte High School building, which the town is proposing as the site of a new community centre, town hall, library and other amenities.
Council also budgeted $35,000 in the event a recreational director - possibly a regional position - is hired in the upcoming year, and $10,000 for maintenance and continued enhancements of its parks, playgrounds and other recreational facilities.
An additional $25,000 has been budgeted for the stadium in 2018.
The mayor said it is time to invest in preventative maintenance and upkeep for recreational facilities as opposed to reactive spending.
Investment in fire protection for Baie Verte has increased about $15,000. It is a way for council to show its support to the fire department, which the mayor noted does a lot of fundraising for its equipment and other necessities.
"If somebody is volunteering their time, they should at least be properly equipped for what they are doing," Philpott said. "... It is the same for all of our volunteers. A town should be supporting our volunteers as much as possible."
The mayor said the town had a number of debt items come off the books after 2017.
The debt ratio has decreased from five per cent to three per cent.
"We have an exceptionally low rate compared to most of the province," he said of the debt ratio.
It has been frustrating for the town being unable to acquire any capital works funding in recent years. With its current debt ratio, the mayor said they are in a better position to undertake some projects.
While the town is in desperate need of road repairs, Philpott said the current council does not want to only consider those projects under capital works funding.
"We want to attract young families, to make it a destination for families," he said. "Council has been trying to decide on things that will help make the town more enticing to those young families."
Meanwhile, council recently approved itself a raise - something the previous council had considered, but deferred until the budgetary process.
Last year, the total council remuneration was $15,680. It will now increase to $19,200.
The mayor said the raise was justified since it has been at least 10 years since it was previously increased
While considered a volunteer position, he said remuneration helps offset the long hours he expects from a dedicated group. He also hopes it will serve as a small incentive to increase the level of interest from future candidates.
"Here in Baie Verte, the remuneration was so low that it wasn't even covering their property tax - depending on where you lived here," he said.
Philpott said it was a difficult and time-consuming budget to deliver in terms of the steep learning curve for the new council members.
He sat on the policy and finance committee previously, so personally had experience with the budget process.
Baie Verte Budget 2018
Remuneration and travel: $24,000
Employee Benefits: $50,000
Payroll burden: $20,768
Purchased services: $12,250
Professional services: $20,000
Property assessment services: $22,707
Professional development and training: $8,000
Public relations: $10,000
Common Services: $18,000
General Government total: $508,725
Fire protection: $71,500
Emergency preparedness and response:: $2,000
Animal and pest control: $500
Municipal enforcement: $1,000
Protective Services total: $76,500
Vehicle fleet and maintenance: $50,000
Streets, roads, sidewalks:$120,000
Snow removal: $100,000
Street lighting: $50,000
Transport total: $340,000
Water supply: $150,000
Sewage collection and disposal:$40,000
Garbage and waste collection and disposal: $100,000
Environment Health total: $290,000
Planning and Development
Planning and zoning: $3,000
Community improvement and development: $50,000
Regional development: $3,000
Tourism and marketing: $2,000
Planning and development total: $58,000
Recreation and Cultural Services
Recreation and community centres: $50,000
Parks, playgrounds, etc.: $10,000
Cultural facilities: $1,000
Recreation and cultural programs: $5,000
Recreation and Cultural Services total: $271,000
Municipal annual payment: $45,540
Provincial annual payment: $10,544
Discounts, losses, allowances: $45,000
Capital expenditure out of revenue: $90,469
Federal gas tax:$65,137
Transfers to authorized reserves and other total: $202,606
Fiscal Services total: $261,690
Total expenditures: $1,805,915
Residential property: $499,366
Total property tax: $617,471
Residential water and sewage total: $223,530
Commercial/non-residential water and sewage: $108,056
Water and sewer tax total: $331,586
Poll tax: $24,250
Business tax: $357,002
Utility tax: $156,338
Other taxes total: $537,591
Taxes and related Revenue total: $1,486,648
Sales of Goods and Services
Garbage collection: $7,200
Recreation and cultural services: $75,000
Tipping fees: $5,400
Sales of good and services total: $87,600
Provincial grants and subsidies
Municipal operating grant: $127,656
Provincial portion of debt charges: $10,544
Provincial gas tax: $23,330
Provincial grants and subsidies total: $161,530
Federal grants and subsidies
Federal gas tax: $65,137
Government Transfers total: $226,667
Total Revenue: $1,805,915