Financial situation, potential future discussed
The closure of two major businesses in Trinity Bay North has created a challenging financial situation for the town.
On Wednesday night, April 9, the town of Trinity Bay North held a public meeting to address financial situations after both Ocean Choice International (OCI) plant and NuTan Furs tannery closed in the town.
In addition to the council, the meeting was conducted by the Regional Partnership Planner for the provincial office of Public Engagement, Colin Holloway.
Holloway brought with him an electronic polling system which would accurately display the sentiments of the 100 concerned citizens who attended the meeting.
The meeting was to let the town get some real feedback on different upcoming endeavours, including how to deal with the lack of tax income from OCI.
The meeting began by outlining some of the services and expenses for which the town is responsible. These included 78 kilometres of roads to plough and maintain, water services and streetlights.
The first and most important issue discussed was the town’s budget by Deputy Mayor Thomas Cooper.
He detailed the financial situation. The town has very little money due to the lack of income from major businesses.
It costs the town $763 per household to provide services, not including workers’ salaries.
They owe the Department of Municipal Affairs $300,000 for the water supply provided for Trinity Bay North.
Municipal Affairs minister Steve Kent eventually allotted for a $450,000 grant to Trinity Bay North, $300,000 towards what they owe and $150,000 for operation.
Taxes have not been raised in the community since 2010, when Little Catalina joined the municipality of Trinity Bay North.
Cooper announced that a change to taxes this year would be an increase for those who own more than one property. Individuals will now be charged $100 per additional property.
One of the first poignant statements of opinion came from the polling devices when the majority of individuals voted that they disagree with the removal of streetlights as a cost cutting measure.
Town Manager Daryl Johnson gave additional details on the town’s water system.
He noted that in the past, Trinity Bay North has been formulating their budgets based on the fact they could not raise taxes. He added that this is a backwards way of doing such a thing.
Johnson also noted that the water system would eventually be handed over from Municipal Affairs to the town. It is important to ensure that the system would be sustainable and affordable for the town to run in its future.
Coun. Cullimore went on to detail potential future recreation projects and Coun. Blackmore spoke of economic development for the town.
Blackmore included ideas such as an RV park in Lookout Park and the codfish culinary experience project, a more direct approach of providing local fish to regional restaurants.
She added with such a project it would be important to start small, but a local fish market would be an eventual goal.
At the end of the meeting, the people were polled on their general opinions of the job that council were doing.
Most of the voters had positive reactions to the efforts made by the council. Mayor Don Burt said, “When people know that we’re working for them, that we’re trying to do the best job we can, that we’re planning, we’re talking to government, we’re talking to various departments, they have to know that. And I think they know.”
The overall feeling of the night was a very positive one, even with the potential of raised taxes and somewhat difficult situation regarding finances.
Burt was pleased with the reaction they were able to see via the electronic polling. He said, “Well I’m very pleased, actually, with both the number of people that were here and the result of our polling. I think that it’s going to give us something to build on and that we know places where we can improve and I think we’ve got some answers for that and people are just generally interested in out community.”
He didn’t know what to expect going in, but he suggested the experience as one that can unite a community.
He admitted, “We were somewhat fearful, you know we are four communities. Sometimes the message comes through that you know, we’re still four communities, we’re not four communities any more. We’re one larger community and I think if we look at it that way, we’re going to go places.”
The results of all the polls will be made available to the public in the future.
Burt said he would recommend any town to use the system implemented during this meeting.
He said, “I think you’re somewhat fearful going in, but that kind of fear never really materializes and when you walk out, you’re sort of on a high that you are doing something that’s worthwhile.”