TERRACE BAY – “We believe we have presented a solid plan for moving our community forward. This process has been extremely difficult although it is very necessary for the long-term sustainability of our Town. Our Community is seeing a lot of growth fueled by projects at the local pulp mill and we hope to see more good things happening in Terrace Bay,” states Jody Davis the Mayor of Terrace Bay.
Council and Administration of the Township of Terrace Bay presented their plan to the community at a public meeting that filled the hall, held on Mach 17th,
The goal of the meeting was presenting the plan for Terrace Bay moving forward and adjusting to the recent loss of over $500,000 in tax revenue.
The “Moving Forward Plan” was presented to Municipal employees in the morning followed by a public presentation.
The loss of revenue will have a significant impact on the Community and will be felt throughout the Town. The Municipality has requested provincial government assistance for the 2013 tax rebate, but had to present a sustainable plan going forward. The “Moving Forward Plan” was a proactive strategy, 6 months in development and involved a variety of initiatives. Some of the revenue enhancements in the plan include: income generated from the two solar panel projects; increases to water rates, recreation fees and special event admissions.
Staff will continue to diligently seek government funding for any projects, new or underway. With the loss in revenue, a tax increase is unavoidable. The extent of any increase will unfortunately not be known until the conclusion of the 2014 budgeting process which is expected mid-April. Another revenue generating initiative is the charging of fees for garbage, similar to other Municipalities in the Province. Information will be forthcoming in the near future with another public forum to fully explain.
Administration outlined some of their recent cost savings activities which included the recent LED streetlight replacement project, a review of the employee benefits program costs, a telephone & internet cost review, entering into an electricity bulk buying program for Municipalities, a reduction in travel for staff and Council and an increase in fees of the Seniors Snow removal program. The presentation also outlined reductions in services including a closure of the Community Centre on Sundays (except for Special Events) – which would be partially offset by the installation of a swipe card system that actually enhances access to the fitness room. Service reduction also saw the number of crossing guard locations in the Municipality from reduced from 3 to 2.
The Municipality concluded its presentation highlighting potential projects for future savings, including working with the local pulp mill on tapping into natural gas conversion and electricity co-generation projects as well as exploring more energy efficiency planning on Municipal buildings. Over the long term, in an attempt to counteract the loss of tax assessment the Municipality is working with developers on new home construction, investigating the potential acquisition of waterfront land for sale and continued activities to encourage job growth in the small business sector.
Approximately 60 people turned out to the public forum which included an active question and answer period. Several residents asked questions about the ideas presented and the work by Council and Administration.
Jon Hall stated, “Council believes strongly in our Municipal team. Management was given the clear objectives of reducing costs and finding new sources of revenue. The goal of this plan was to limit the impact to rate payers and Municipal operations as much as possible. The Moving Forward Plan is a good start to our recovery and through a thorough 2014 budgeting process we expect the foundation to be set for a strong and stable future.