Read the Budget 2017 Speech
Mayor Tapper and my fellow members of Council, as the Chair of the Corporate and Community Services Committee, I am pleased to present the 2017 budget to Council this evening.
The focus of my comments will be on the budgetary process that was undertaken this year and to outline the key initiatives for each department in the 2017 budget.
Our Council is now into the final year of our term. I am delighted to say that we have taken huge strides in 2016 towards completing our Strategic Plan. The projects and initiatives we are proposing to undertake in this budget document will see us take our ambitious plan to its conclusion.
In preparation for the 2017 budget, the Corporate & Community Services Committee engaged with residents as well as all Councillors, Directors, Managers, etc., to gather their feedback, opinions and input on its development. Residents were encouraged to submit their questions and thoughts on the budget via social media using the hashtag, AskTorbay. You Tube was used in our budget process for the first time, with a series of informational videos by Council on the many elements of our budget. The Torbay Citizen Budget tool was visited by residents who were able to become more familiar with our municipal budget.
2017 sees the provincial economy facing some tough economic times. Recognizing this fact, along with the mandatory legislative requirement for a balanced budget, the mil rate for residential property tax will be maintained at the 2016 level of 6.7 mils. This will enable the Town to complete two million, one hundred and sixty eight thousand, six hundred and thirty two dollars ($2,168,632.00) in capital work in 2017, down from four million, three hundred and seventy six thousand, one hundred and seventy four dollars and eighty cents ($4,376,174.80) from 2016.
The Town is pleased to continue to offer a 25% discount on property taxes to residents in receipt of the guaranteed income supplement in 2017.
We will also continue the property tax reduction for low income individuals and families which was established last year. Net income must reflect the Government of Newfoundland & Labrador’s Low Income Tax Reduction income thresholds. A discount of 20% on property taxes will be offered to individuals and families that qualify.
The main operating budget in 2017 shall be eight million seven hundred and eighty four thousand, four hundred and ninety six dollars and twenty four cents ($8,784,496.24.) I will now provide an overview of some of the key initiatives we will undertake in 2017:
Remuneration for Council will continue remain frozen at 2015 levels.
The Torbay Volunteer Fire Department provides a vitally important service to our Town. To further enhance their service, a tender for a new tanker truck will be issued in 2017. This piece of equipment will improve fire safety in unserviced areas of Torbay. The Torbay Volunteer Fire Department budget for 2017 will be four hundred and eighty one thousand, eight hundred and fifty six dollars and two cents ($481,856.02), an increase of over twenty one thousand dollars ($21,000) from 2016.
The Department of Infrastructure & Public Works has a number of significant projects in 2017 as we work to improve the services to our residents. The most significant milestone in 2017 will be the commissioning of the new Municipal Depot. This commissioning will take place very early in the New Year and will centralize the department’s operations therefore increasing its efficiencies.
The Town is contributing one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000) towards municipal enforcement and security services in partnership with the Town of Portugal Cove – St. Philip’s. This will go to addressing resident concerns of anti-social behaviour in Torbay including excessive speeding, loitering and illicit dumping.
The allocation for road improvements has increased from the 2016 level of one hundred and fifty thousand dollars ($150,000) to two hundred and fifty one thousand, four hundred and eight dollars and thirty four cents ($251,408.34) in 2017. The specific improvements will be confirmed upon the completion of a roads assessment report by March 2017.
One hundred thousand ($100,000) will go towards the implementation of the Pedestrian Safety Study which was completed and published in 2016, involving enhanced infrastructure and increased signage.
Other infrastructure upgrades in 2017 will see improved water distribution at the Tynedale Pumping Station and enhanced wastewater service at the lift station on Reddy Drive. 2017 will also see the completion of the water alternative study and discussions with the Federal Government to confirm a potable water supply for the residents of our Town. The Town has completed a best available technology study which will identify the technologies which has identified the top technologies in order for the Town of Torbay to meet the Federal Government’s wastewater effluent regulations. Effort are ongoing to identify and secure funding for this strategic initiative.
The Town will also continue to implement the Vehicle & Equipment Strategy in 2017. Two new pick-up trucks and one new tandem dump truck will enter service with two pick-up trucks and two tandem dump trucks removed from the Town’s fleet via tender. Proceeds from the tender will be used to pay down capital acquisition.
The Department of Planning & Development has a number of key initiatives in 2017.
The important groundwater flow modelling program will continue. The imagery it is gathering is being encompassed into a base map for our community. We are a provincial leader with this project. The data being collected is of extremely high value for future sustainable planning and development purposes.
The Town will also contribute twenty five thousand, six hundred and sixty seven dollars ($25,667) towards a regional transit study which will examine the feasibility of a regional transit system in the northeast Avalon.
Ten thousand, six hundred and thirty eight dollars ($10,638) will also be allocated to the development of the Northeast Avalon Regional Plan.
Economic Development highlights include six thousand dollars ($6,000) to support the annual Business Awards Night, one thousand, five hundred dollars ($1,500) towards the High School Enterprise competition, twelve thousand ($12,000) to the very successful Torbay Community Market and finally six thousand dollars ($6,000) to go towards a business start-up, growth and training series.
Enhanced resident communications is now coming under the arm of Economic Development. 2016 has seen great strides in resident engagement with improvements made to the Town’s website, making it more resident focused and easy to navigate. The launch of Torbay Alerts has made it easier than ever before for residents to choose what information they receive from the Town, and how they wish to receive it. We also developed Torbay Talks, a once bi-weekly, now weekly online newsletter full of Town notices, announcements, events and information. It has over one thousand, two hundred (1,200) subscribers and it grows every month. Residents can also stay informed by viewing notices on our new gateway sign, located at the Torbay/St. John’s boundary, which is anticipated to be operational today.
The Regional Demographics Survey, launched on Wednesday, December 7th, outlined that 85.8% of residents feel the Town is effectively keeping them informed. With this in mind, we will begin 2017 in a strong position that we will build upon.
At this time, I want to take the opportunity to recognize the Town of Torbay, the proud recipient of three National Marketing Canada Awards from the Economic Developers Association of Canada (EDAC). The awards were presented at the 2016 Annual Conference in October of this year in Saskatoon. Addition information on these awards is available on the Town’s website.
It has been an extremely exciting year for facilities in the Town of Torbay. As I already mentioned, the new Municipal Depot is weeks away from its commissioning, but many other projects are on the horizon.
The construction of the new Community Centre, located at the current Kinsmen Community Centre site, will start in the Spring, 2017. This project is co-funded between the Provincial Government and the Town of Torbay under the 2014-2017 Multi Year Capital Works Program. This building will be constructed utilizing a design build approach – a first for the Town. The Request for Proposals documents are being developed as we speak and it is hoped they will be issued early in the New Year.
The new Clubhouse at Upper Three Corner Pond Park is expected to open in March 2017. This building will be a massive improvement to sports and community groups in our Town. We’re also investing one hundred and sixty two thousand, five hundred dollars ($162,500) in to replacing the ball-field at the Kinsmen Community Centre that is moving to Upper Three Corner Pond Park. This will help us solidify the Park as the sports hub in our community.
We are going to build upon the tremendous resident feedback we’ve received for constructing and revitalising trails in Torbay in 2016 by contributing two hundred and fifty thousand dollars ($250,000) towards even more trail development in 2017. Priority trails are: continued expansion of the Upper Three Corner Pond Trails. Also, linking Forest River Road to Western Island Pond, and trails at Jones Pond and Flora Drive. Also located in the Forest Landing Subdivision, you will find a new open space located on Woodbridge Drive which can be utilized for various events throughout the Summer and Winter seasons. Residents can look forward to outdoor skating on this sport court this year.
The Town is also contributing towards a six hundred thousand dollar ($600,000) investment along with the recent Federal and Provincial Governments on three new heritage and tourism sites at Torbay Beach. These sites, to be constructed in 2017, will be along the East Coast Trail, building upon the recent trail development to Woodfine Falls. This will bring huge improvements to resident and tourist experiences in our community.
The culture and heritage of Torbay is vibrant and unique. This Council is committed to fostering and helping it thrive. Negotiations are in the final stages to make the Priest’s House the new home of the Torbay Museum and a cultural hub of the Town.
Recreation Programs are a fundamental ingredient to community building. These programs bring our residents, community groups, sports groups and volunteers together. They enhance our quality of life, help us to learn new skills and 2017 sees one of the biggest and most diverse programming offering in Torbay’s history. In addition, funding has been allocated in the amount of $38,000 in partnership with other towns to explore the feasibility of a second ice pad at the Jack Byrne Regional Sports and Entertainment Centre.
50 programs will be offered to our community in 2017. 17 of these will be brand new, having never been offered before. It may sound like a cliché, but 2017 will absolutely have something for everyone in your household and I encourage all residents to watch for our program announcements that went in the mail today.The Town is proud to invest four hundred and sixty six thousand, eight hundred and eighty four dollars and sixty six cents ($466,884.66) into this enhanced programming, an increase of eighty four thousand, seven hundred and two dollars and eighty seven cents ($84,702.87) over the 2016 budget.
I would like to take a moment to speak to this increase. 2017 brings a once in a generation celebration to Canada as we celebrate the 150th anniversary of confederation. This is a special year for Canada, one that
required the extra investment to make it a memorable year for Torbay as well.
Volunteerism continues to be the backbone of our community like all others. Our volunteers are tirelessly dedicated to improving our Town and are the lifeblood that makes our beautiful Town so unique.
The Town is delighted to continue to support the many community groups and committees in our Town – Torbay Folk Arts Council, Torbay Lions Club, A Time In Torbay Festival Committee, Torbay Harbour Authority, the High School Safe Grad, Torbay Library, and East Coast Trail Association.
Before concluding my summary of the 2017 Budget, I would like to thank Mayor Ralph Tapper, Members of the Corporate and Community Services Committee, Council Members, and especially our CAO Dawn Chaplin and Staff for the huge number of hours that was required for input and balancing of this 2017 Town of Torbay Budget.
More details regarding the Town of Torbay 2017 budget will be found on the Town’s website in the coming days.
I now ask for Council’s support as I present several motions required for the adoption of the 2017 budget for the Town of Torbay as recommended by the Corporate and Community Services Committee.