There was only one item on the agenda for last week’s regular town council meeting, but it was the big one.
St. Anthony council unanimously adopted its $2.9 million 2019 budget Nov. 27.
In presenting the numbers, Coun. Darl Scott described council’s approach for its first year in office as “staying the course in spending while strategically investing in roads, water and sewer, seniors housing and more.”
The 2019 document is more of the same. Big ticket items include water line upgrades for Cabot and Cormack Streets, a new fire hall, asphalt for side roads and a snow plow.
“Hopefully some of these will come true with the help of the provincial and federal governments,” said Mayor Desmond McDonald.
Of these, the priority is the water line upgrades, he said.
“The water situation over there is in dire straits,” McDonald noted. “It’s old infrastructure, it’s run down, it’s been patched up, the road itself, with the water leaks and everything else, the road is in hard shape.”
The town applied for funding for that project last year, but didn't get it. McDonald is more optimistic this year, citing a recent $555.8 million Government of Canada funding announcement and noting that 2019 is an election year.
“I’m hoping it’s very likely considering the amount of money that the federal government just pumped into infrastructure for Newfoundland over the next 10 years,” he said. “I’m hoping we’re going to get some projects, we didn’t get any from the province last year.”
That water line project is budgeted for $2.1 million with a 90-10 split. Council passed a motion to seek leave from Municipal Affairs and Environment to borrow St. Anthony’s $210,000 share to be repaid over seven years.
McDonald thinks getting funding for a new fire hall will be more difficult. With an estimate of over $4 million, of which the town will be on the hook for more than $1 million, it will take a regional approach to get it done, he said.
“We’re a regional department anyway, we serve the whole region,” the mayor said. “Griquet has theirs, we back them up, they back us up. We serve Goose Cove, St. Anthony Bight, airport, so we’re really a regional centre anyway.
“Our fire hall now is a repurposed building that came from the American base, I’m going to say back in the ‘60s. It’s old, it’s in very, very rough condition, so it has to be replaced.”
Council passed a motion to borrow its share of the cost to be repaid over 15 years.
The town will also seek to borrow $165,000 for new asphalt if the province and federal governments approve a $500,000 project to re-pave side roads.
St. Anthony also bought a new snow plow that is included in the 2019 budget. Council adopted a motion in August to borrow the $296,000 for the plow to be paid off over six years.
“One of our plows was old and had some issues, so we’re moving on from that piece of equipment to a newer piece,” McDonald explained. “Of course, when you get into older equipment you run into higher maintenance costs, so it just seems sensible to us to have newer equipment.”
Following the passing of 20 individual motions needed to adopt the budget, Councillors Eric Boyd and Scott and the mayor used their private member time to praise town staff for their hard work on the budget.