BAY ROBERTS, NL — The Town of Bay Roberts will stand pat on tax rates for 2018 and continue to invest in upgrades to roads, water and sewer systems and recreation facilities.
That what finance committee chair Water Yetman told fellow council members at Tuesday's regular meeting, the last of 2017.
All seven members voted unanimously to adopt the new budget.
"Our good fiscal management, our balanced approach, and living within our means will enable us to provide a level of services that our residents deserve and expect," Yetman said Tuesday.
While there's no tax increase in the 2018 budget, Bay Roberts is looking at spending a lot more money compared to 2017. The budget for 2018 will increase 20 per cent over the current calendar year, from $7.5 million to $9 million.
Yetman, the town's deputy mayor, said this substantial increase is the result of funding that will be carried over into 2018 for upgrades to the Klondyke Bridge and Goose Pond Hill. The town's public works capital, infrastructure and operational budget is $4.3 million for next year.
The finance chair also highlighted the town's strong financial position, with the debt ratio dropping from 6.4 per cent last year to 5.7 per cent. He noted that as of 2013, that figure sat at 16 per cent.
"A low debt ratio will allow us to access funding for wastewater treatment, additional multi-year capital works projects, potential expansion of our town services and other town initiatives in the years ahead," he said, later adding the town will not need to borrow money to cover operation and capital costs in 2018.
Bay Roberts will update lift stations, improve the town's wastewater collection system and continue with upgrades to Country Road.
The town also budgeted $400,000 to enhance a two-kilometre stretch of the Conception Bay Highway that runs through Bay Roberts. An economic development initiative focused on pedestrian safety and attracting new businesses, the project requires support from other levels of government. Yetman said the town would lobby the province on that matter, as well as the need to replace Coley's Point Primary school.
The town will complete more work tied to the master plan for the Wilbur Sparkes Recreation Complex, including installation of a splash pad next spring. Washrooms at the Bay Arena will also be upgraded, and work is in store for the Butlerville ball field, trails, the community gardens, the pool and the Cable Building. Money was also budgeted to help the fire department replace a pick-up truck.