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Gander brings down $16-million budget for 2018

Gander finance chair Brian Dove reviews the town’s 2018 budget.
Gander finance chair Brian Dove reviews the town’s 2018 budget. - Adam Randell

1% tax increase coming for Gander residents and businesses

GANDER, NL – Moving into the new year, the Town of Gander has approved a spending increase of half a million dollars. 

Finance chair Brian Dove brought forward the news when announcing Budget 2018 – totaling $16,432,667, up $507,112 over the previous year – on Dec. 6. 

The increase in spending will be accommodated through the community’s growth, operational adjustments, and a one-per cent tax increase to property, water and sewer, and business rates. 

The residential mil rate increased from 6.70 mils to 6.77. An example provided in the budget of how the increase will look – a home assessed at $200,000 will see an annual increase of $18. Water and sewer increased by $4, coming in at $410 annually. 

Commercial mil rates increased from 6.40 mils to 6.46. Commercial water tax will be based on the established mil rate. 

Ice rental fees increased by five per cent, and for the first time a $10-fee per child per sport is being put in place for field rentals. This will be charged to organizations. It’s expected to generate $10,700 in revenue. 
Dove said the new fee will assist with the town’s maintenance costs for the fields. 

“There’s no way to recoup all the expenses tied into it, but it balances it out a little more,” he said. 

Just over half of the budget, more than $8 million, will be put towards payroll and council. 

In new spending – $177,200 – the town will add another salaried position to the town register with the introduction of a tourism development officer. This position has an allocation for $89,000 for salary and associated program costs. 

Asked why this could not have been done through current staff, Dove said, “The staff we have do a great job and there’s lots for them to do, so our line of thinking was having someone more specialized in the tourism field would better serve everybody.” 

Capital projects 

The town has earmarked $17.5 million for new and ongoing major capital works. The bulk of this investment is for the sewage treatment plant. 

However, roadwork, infrastructure upgrades, new infrastructure and equipment purchases have been approved. 

It will also focus on a new soccer/track and field facility, ball field light upgrades, and partnering on a multi-purpose facility. 

Dove said the recreational focus was based on the campaign trail during the September municipal elections. 

“That was what we heard from everybody, the need for improved recreational facilities,” he said. “There’s only so much you can do every year, so we thought we’d look at (it) to see what we could pick off.” 

To make it all happen comes with increased borrowing. 

The debt service ratio is currently at 13.5 per cent. Essentially 13.5 cents of every Town of Gander dollar go towards debt repayment. 

It will increase significantly to 17.5 per cent by 2021, largely due to wastewater treatment plant payments. 

But with Gander continuing to grow, Dove said investment is required to maintain and enhance services. 

“Overall, I think we did our best to avoid any (major) tax increase,” he said. “I think one per cent is ok. It shouldn’t hurt peoples pocket book too much.” 


2018 Budget highlights 

  • Residential mil rate increased from 6.70 mils to 6.77. 

  • Residential water and sewer increased by $4, to $410. 

  • Commercial mil rates will increase from 6.40 mils to 6.46. Commercial water tax will be based on the established mil rate. 

  • 2017 brought about $250,000 in new revenue. 

  • Up to the end of November permits for new residential, business construction, and renovations amounted to $21,361,088. 

  • There have been 71 new homes and 40 new businesses established. 

  • Five per cent increase to ice rental fees.  

  • For the first time, children involved in organized field sports will be charged $10 per child per sport for field rentals. 

  • Residential taxes carried the greatest source of revenue – covering 47.2 per cent of the budget. 

  • Public works made up the bulk of department expenditures – 38.6 per cent. 

  • Payroll and council makes up just over half of town expenditures – 49.4 in payroll, 1.5 council. 

  • All taxes in arrears after March 31, 2018 will come with an interest rate of 12 per cent per annum and will be charged at the end of the month 

2018 Capital Projects 

  • Set at $17.5-million, the majority of this investment, $13-million, will be the town's contribution towards a new wastewater treatment plant.

  • Road upgrades will come forward to the tune of $1.6 million to complete road, curb and sidewalk projects on Memorial Drive, Griffin Place and Cooper Boulevard, and sectional paving repairs. 

  • Public works and services will be getting $500,000 for a new salt shed. The old one has outlived its usefulness, as it comes with capacity and structural issues. 

  • Gander will invest $65,000 to further enhance Cobb’s Pond Rotary Park with accessible playground equipment. 

  • The town will be replacing lighting at the ball field to the tune of $200,000. Originally installed in 1992, the current lights have exceeded their life expectancy and are no longer serviceable. 

  • The town has earmarked up to $50,000 to work collaboratively with leaders in various community recreation groups to establish a multi-purpose/multiuser facility. 

  • Council will be investing up to $400,000 towards the development of a new outdoor soccer and track and field facility. 

  • The town will get a new front-end loader to the tune of $350,000. 

  • The town hall will receive a $74,500-interior upgrade. 


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