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Lewisporte town hall
Lewisporte town hall - SaltWire Network

Council approves budget totalling over $5.088 million

LEWISPORTE, NL – Fiscal accountability and responsibility were the aim in preparing and presenting the 2018 budget for the Town of Lewisporte.

In presenting the budget to council for approval on Dec. 19, Finance Committee chair Councillor Brian Hooper noted the concerns council members heard from residents as they campaigned during the 2017 municipal election.

Hooper said going into his first municipal budget process was an eye-opening experience, but noted that he and all those providing input and making decisions went into it with an open mind.

“We didn’t go into this saying we couldn’t raise taxes,” he said. “We were saying we had to maintain services and try to increase some levels of service, but we have to do it with a balanced budget.

“If it means at the end of the day, if taxes have to go up, and (increase to) taxes can be justified, then so be it. But we were lucky that once we looked at our expenses, and maintaining service and delivery, we struck a balance. It’s a win-win. Where it is in the future (budgets), no one can tell that.”

There are no new property or business taxes. The mil rate remains the same at 7.00.

Before heading into the budget process, it was noted that there were cost overruns from the 2017 budget that had to be dealt with. That budget was balanced over the past couple of months and then work proceeded on the 2018 budget, which has recreation as one of the priorities.

Pending funding from different levels of government to help shoulder the cost, the budget included a playground facility for the south side, splash pad and dog park.

“We are pretty optimistic that we will be able to find sources of funding,” Hooper told The Pilot.

Another area council is looking at is the development of a secondary bypass road for emergency routes.

“We wanted to make certain people understood this is for emergency routes,” Hooper explained. “We are not putting an outer ring road around Lewisporte.”

Hooper said they are looking at incorporating some existing streets and portions of rail bed into creating accessible routes that could be used in emergency situations, such as if there was an accident or incident that resulted in the closure of Main Street. Hooper noted that last year there was concern about the bridge near Woolfrey’s Funeral Home washing out.

“We came close to that last year, to being cut off from police station, fire hall, ambulance station,” he said. “Anything happens uptown, how are you getting up there?”

Once again, such a project is yet to be engineered and will depend on combined funding from other government sources in addition to the municipal contribution before proceeding.

Keeping with emergency services, the budget for fire protection was increased from $84,058 in 2017 to $123,230 for 2018. Hooper noted those funds will be utilized to allow the department to increase its membership and for the replacement/purchase of equipment.

Resource development saw $100,000 allotted for the Economic Development Committee to position the Town in attracting offshore oil and gas companies and other potential business opportunities, and making Lewisporte a viable option for companies to do business.

“We are trying to attract opportunities and we need to be ready,” Hooper said.

Hooper noted that council will take fiscal responsibility and accountability very serious in 2018.

“This budget is very tight, and cost overruns will have to be scrutinized closely,” he said.

Going forward, council will operate on a zero-based budget looking ahead to the 2019 budget. That means spending in all departments will be scrutinized, and will have to be justified before it can be included in the next municipal budget.

“This gives the (Finance) committee a birds-eye view of things and what exactly money is being spent on, providing a better financial picture,” Hooper said.

Looking ahead to 2018, Hooper said there are positive things in the works for 2018, but he couldn’t provide details on just what at this point. In the coming months he anticipated more details to be available “on pleasant things on the move for 2018.”

 

Expenditures

General Government - $1,398,187

Protective Services - $140,830

Transportation Services - $701,930

Environmental Health - $633,500

Planning and Development - $111,500

Recreation and Cultural Services - $1,164,970

Fiscal Services - $938,064

Total = $5,088,981

 

Revenues

Taxes and Related Revenues - $3,472,368

Sales of Goods & Services - $979,000

Other Revenue From Own Sources - $155,250

Government Transfers - $482,363

Total = $5,088,981

kwells@pilotnl.ca

 

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