For proof of that, look no further than the town’s 2016 operating budget, which was passed during its regular council meeting on Dec. 8. In 1951, the town’s budget was some $50,000.
Last night Bay Roberts approved a budget of $7.4 million, the largest in the town’s history.
Deputy Mayor Walter Yetman called the budget “a true testament to the hard work and dedication of past and current councils and staff” in his address to council. Normally, it is the mayor who brings down the budget, but Yetman has performed the task for the past two years.
“Our fiscal year 2016, will be the third of this council’s four-year mandate where we will continue to practice responsible and efficient fiscal management,” said Yetman. “With this budget, we will continue to provide necessary core services to our residents, we will continue to upgrade and enhance current infrastructure and continue with out recreation, tourism and, beautification intiatives and improvements.
“Certainly all very important aspects of a well-rounded, successful community.”
An obvious highlight of the budget is the lowering of the town’s residential mill rate from 7.0 to 6.5 in light of increased property assessment values across the province. For the fourth consecutive year, Bay Roberts will not need to borrow any money to make the books balance and cover its operational and capital budgets.
Yetman noted that there are challenges ahead and “the list of needs and wants isn’t becoming any shorter.”
The town’s public works department will see a $3 million investment, with two-parts of that money being earmarked for operational water and sewer, as well as sanitation expenses. The remaining money will be allocated into the purchase of a new loader, continued improvements to infrastructure and either the repair or replacement of the Klondyke Bridge.
Bay Roberts will continue to invest in improvements to the Wilbur Sparkes Recreational Complex and the soccer field, along with a $25,000 capital grant being provided to the Bay Arena.
“Through government sources and fundraising, we are hoping money will become available to begin our much anticipated aquatic-wellness centre,” said Yetman.
Upgrades to the portion of the Conception Bay Highway dubbed the “Golden Mile” will continue, as well as an investment in the Goose Pond Trail in Shearstown in hopes of having the project completed in 2017.
There are also plans to invest money into the town’s fire department for the purchase of new equipment.
“Through efficiency and good management, we continue to put the town in a good fiscal position and are maintaining a strong debt ratio which will allow future borrowing if needed,” said Yetman.