Muskrat protests continue
About 30 people are manning the blockade at Muskrat Falls today, with the numbers swelling to over 150 last night.
Councilor says budget should have been postponed
Happy Valley-Goose Bay town councillor Reg Bowers feels the town council should not have presented it’s budget last night, as the town is waiting on audited financial statements from 2014. He says the date should have been pushed back 30-60 days.
©Bonnie Learning/The Labradorian
Happy Valley-Goose Bay town councillor Reg Bowers said the 2016 municipal budget should have not have been presented last night.
“I don’t feel comfortable passing a budget where some numbers are unverified,” said Bowers.
Bowers’s comments came after deputy mayor Cora Hamel Pardy’s budget speech earlier that evening.
“Due to unanticipated circumstances, the town is waiting on financial audited statements from 2014, in order finalize the budget we are presenting today,” said Hamel Pardy. “We are working with the auditor to expedite the process. Once we are in receipt of those audited statements, we will announce any final revisions to the budget.”
“I didn’t agree with the budget because, for the sake of 30-60 days, I think there will be a much different picture presented,” said Bowers at the meeting.
“We have time periods to change it in. So some of things will become quite different.”
The Happy Valley-Goose Bay town councillor said as all final numbers weren’t in, the budget should have been pushed back 30-60 days.
However, later — in the councillor’s forum — Hamel Pardy clearly outlined the budget process.
“I want to confirm for the gallery and the council…the budget deadline is Dec. 1,” she said. “I didn’t make it up — it’s in black and white in the Municipalities Act, very clear.”
Hamel Pardy said she remembers the first budget of the current council being several months late, even with an extension due to the timing of the 2013 municipal general election in September.
“The stress of trying to coordinate seven different schedules, work and personal commitments, I vowed then — if I had any control over it — we would not be going through that again,” she said.
“I wouldn’t be at all supportive of submitting a budget just ‘whenever’. I went through that and I wouldn’t want to do that again.”
In her budget speech, Hamel Pardy — who chairs council’s finance, administration and policy committee — outlined various factors that were taken into consideration for the 2016 budget.
She said there were challenges presented due to a significant increase in residential property assessments this year.
“During the budget process, we dealt with the challenge of balancing a reduced mil rate, while maintaining funds for infrastructure investment,” she said. “The community united to produce a strong voice on the matter and we have listened to those concerns. We have reduced property mil rate to 6.25. The commercial and business tax mil rate will remain unchanged.”
Hamel Pardy said a thorough review on business and commercial tax will be conducted in 2016 with extensive consultation with the business community.
She also noted new tipping fees at the landfill site for 20 tonnes and over — $150 for customers inside town limits and $600 for customer outside of town limits — and an increase in the vacant commercial land tax to $2,500.
Hamel Pardy also highlighted positive accomplishments such as new playgrounds and a new dog park; capital projects including new fencing and lighting around MMC sports complex, street resurfacing, water treatment plant upgrades, water main replacement; water and sewer upgrades and master plan; and completion of phase 2 of the Labrador Wellness Centre study.
She said the town also plans to build on its green space development
Other capital works for 2016 — where are cost shared 70-30 between province and town for a total cost of $4 million— include work on the engineering study for the Wellness Centre’s fitness and aquatics section, the Broomfield Arena, water treatment plant, and completion of the fire hall study and extension.