Mayor John Higham says the New Brunswick government has refused his request for nearly $60,000 to make up for its decision to reduce Sackville’s 2018 municipal tax base by $9.2 million.
During a speech today during his annual New Year’s levee at Town Hall, the mayor added that council will now have to decide whether to make up the budget shortfall by further reductions to the town’s budget or by raising property taxes.
“That will be the question,” Higham said during an interview later, “and someone on council will make a motion for one way or the other and we’ll see how everybody votes.”
During a special budget meeting in November, all seven councillors who were present favoured closing the budget gap with small tax increases that would see residential rates go up by one cent to $1.56 per $100 of assessment and commercial rates rise by one-and-a-half cents to $4.545 per $100 of assessment.
Councillors are expected to discuss how to eliminate the budget shortfall at their next meeting on January 8th.
Higham says the province has agreed to discuss other changes that could improve Sackville’s financial outlook such as including Mount Allison’s student population in the calculations for provincial equalization support; fuller recovery of the costs when Sackville’s firefighters and police respond to emergencies on the TransCanada Highway; and, more compensation for the fire protection that Sackville provides to residents of local service districts outside its boundaries.
Mayor hopeful about Moloney Electric
Meantime, Higham says he’s hoping to hear soon about whether an Ontario-based company with additional plants in Alberta and British Columbia will be able to buy Sackville’s Moloney Electric building to produce electrical transformers here.
About 60 workers lost their jobs when Moloney Electric shut down in 2016.
The mayor says Cam Tran, a family-owned company with headquarters near Peterborough, Ontario, has submitted an offer to buy the building and is expecting to receive an answer from the bankruptcy manager this month.
“They see this as the perfect addition to their national network,” Higham says adding the company wants to make significant capital investments here.
“They like the location, they like the skilled labour and they like the potential for sales both in the Maritimes and in export,” he says.
Poet Laureate pats town’s back
A highlight of today’s mayor’s levee was poet laureate Marilyn Lerch’s performance of “It’s Time To Pat Our Town’s Back & This Homely Poem Will Do Just That.”
Among other things, her poem praised Sackville residents for supporting the local hospital as well as the volunteers who are trying to improve the town’s schools with “their 20-20 vision.”
Lerch drew laughter and applause when she ended by flagging one of last year’s notable achievements:
Last but not least, as we shout hear, hear
There’s one thing about which we all can rave
After all those bumpy, rutted, flooded years,
Finally, we got Lorne Street paved.
To listen to Marilyn Lerch’s poem, which she read again later for The New Wark Times, click to start the player below.