Businessman Bob Byrnes, who is known to be outspoken, was a supporter of the Town of Stephenville Budget 2019 on Friday, calling it well rounded and addressing most groups in the community.
He was one of four people from economic development to attend the special council meeting that had the single item of the budget on the agenda, which was adopted unanimously.
The balanced budget represents income projections of $8,490,325 and expenses of the same amount. The budget is on track with the past several years, which included $8.44 million in 2017 and 8.444 million in 2018.
Byrnes said he liked the fact that the residential property tax rate will be reduced by .2 mills from 7.4 to 7.2 mills; the poll tax will be reduced by $25, from $150 to $125; and new residential permit fees will be reduced from $75 to $25.
In bringing down the budget, Coun. Mark Felix, chair of the finance committee, said to recognize the efforts of the many volunteers who plan and host many local, provincial and national events in the town, council is providing a marketing and promotion grant of up to $15,000 to assist with their efforts.
Byrnes said this is a great idea, especially since this money takes into account what the organization brings to the community, from stays at hotels, eating in restaurants, to purchases made in the town by the visitors.
“This gives these organizations money to offset their costs and it’s a nice, innovative strategy,” he said.
The budget also provides community development funds of $265,000, which allows council to support the many not-for-profit groups accomplishing great work in the town.
Also, council will make another allotment of $151,000 to its economic development committee, allowing for the completion of its three-year strategic plan and commencing its initiatives implementation in 2019.
“We need someone out there who is promoting bringing new business to our town, and because of the new economic development office this is possible. You have to spend money to make money,” Byrnes said.
He said for many years the town didn’t have anyone to go out in the business world to promote things like the town’s port and airport, which are underutilized.
Felix said the town council unanimously agreed not to seek an increase in council remuneration for 2019.
He said council is on target to complete a balanced budget for 2018 and be debt-free by March 2019.
Felix said council is contributing another $50,000 to its reserve fund, for a total of $100,000.
Council is providing any developer with a household subdivision agreement with the town with an exemption from paying property taxes on empty building lots until the land is sold from Jan. 1, 2019 until Dec. 31, 2021.
Any time a senior has to move out of their home for residential care, the property taxes will only include the income of the one senior remaining in the household.
Stephenville Budget 2018 priorities:
Continue with council’s efforts to be transparent and accountable to all taxpayers.
Fund capital works projects that improve quality of life for residents.
Leverage funding to achieve maximum benefits for taxpayers.
Build and maintain collaborative partnerships to expand the town.
Recognize volunteer efforts of not-for-profit organizations and agencies, as they significantly contribute to the social and economic agenda of the town.
Build a reserve fund to deal with unexpected future expenditures or investment prospects.
Be in a good financial position to respond to development opportunities.
Capital works projects 2019:
Project Town Province/Canada
Well Field Generator $60,000 $60,000
St. Clare Avenue Phase 2 Construction $80,000 $320,000
Maple Street Reconstruction $230,000 $920,000
Queen/Prince Rupert Traffic Light $140,000 $140,000
Source: Town of Stephenville