It is budget time at the Municipality of the District of Yarmouth. A time to consider all of the grant requests and decide how to spend your money. This is certainly a learning experience for me. Last week we reviewed the grant requests and there are many non-profits all needing a piece of the pie. As much as we would like to give everyone their request, it just isn’t possible but I can tell you that the council worked really well in coming to the conclusion of how to distribute the money. There were a couple of circumstances which required much debate but in the end, majority rules and that is how a council should work. Once the final budget is passed, information with be forthcoming.
This week we look at the big ticket departments, those that require a significant amount of money, many of which are pre-determined since we share services with the Town of Yarmouth and Argyle. We share the Mariners Centre, the airport, Waste Check, Recreation, YASTA and the Western Regional Economic Network to name a few, none of which we could manage on our own. I am thankful we can collaborate with our neighbours.
A challenge will be the capital projects like sidewalks and infrastructure. Some projects were in the works before I joined the council and they will continue to be on the books until they are finished. At the last regular council meeting, we passed the Hebron Sidewalk Phase III. It has been in the plans for 4 years. The sidewalk which is adjacent the 340 highway in Hebron will be repaired and an extension built to the rail trail. This comes with a steep price, approximately $800,000. Thankfully, gas tax money has been put aside for this project. Sidewalks are EXPENSIVE!
Another project approved by the former council which is still being considered is a public works building. I can tell you that our staff work outside all winter to repair equipment! This causes many delays in getting our snow removal equipment out when there is a problem. Our staff are looking for the most economical way to build this infrastructure and keep going back to the drawing table. We’re not there yet.
All councillors sit on the By law and Policy Review committee. This committee sets new policies and bylaws and these require much debate. At the present time, we are considering a well drilling program whereby the Municipality allows constituents to borrow money from us and have it added to their tax bill. This would be available to those individuals who are continuing to experience lack of water due to last summer’s drought. It is not for new construction. It is to be repaid over 10 years. The province has approved the program but hasn’t offered any financial assistance. Here are some of the concerns:
• There is no guarantee when you dig or drill a well that it will be successful. What if you spend $20,000.00 and you do not get water or the water quality is poor? The Municipality can’t be responsible for the quality of your water. You still have to pay the money back!! There has to be a limit on how much you can borrow.
• How much debt can the Municipality handle on behalf of the constituents?
• What if a person applies but does not have good credit? As a constituent, would you want to take a that risk of someone borrowing your tax dollars and not being able to pay it back?
• Any loan puts a lien against your property.
• Most important though is we do not want our residents to experience the same water issues as we had last year. The three necessities of life are food, water and shelter!
All of the above are being considered in the development of this by law. Hope this rain is helping and that your basement isn’t flooding.
Lastly for consideration: The Provincial Election
As an educator and now a politician, I urge you to consider the kinds of questions you ask a candidate when they visit your home. There are SKINNY questions and FAT questions. Skinny questions are those that a person can answer with one word, easy to answer and do not require any thought. They begin with: Who, When, Where, Will …?
Do you support the ferry from Yarmouth to the USA? Yes
Will your government build a full cancer clinic in Yarmouth? YES!
Are you going to bring new industry to Yarmouth? Yes!!
Will you repeal the Bill 75, the one which forced a contract on the teachers? YES!
Fat questions on the other hand require the politician to think through their answers. They begin with: How, What, Why….?
How will your government support the ferry link from Yarmouth to the USA?
How are you going to bring new industry to Yarmouth?
What will you do to improve education in the Province of Nova Scotia?
Yes, we thankfully have many things to consider!
Happy Mothers Day!