At its meeting last night, town council authorized the mayor to sign a $7,000 contract with Plaskett for a performance at the Vogue Cinema during the festival, which is being held from May 23 to 26.
“I just want to say, I’m super excited, I’d buy a ticket right now if they were available,” said Councillor Andrew Black.
“Joel Plaskett is a huge headliner,” he added. “He’s going to draw a huge crowd, the tickets will sell out super fast.”
Town manager Ron Kelly Spurles acknowledged that Plaskett’s $7,000 fee would put a big dent in the town’s festival budget of $12,500, but added that ticket sales would generate at least an additional $2,500.
He also pointed out the town gives financial support to other groups that want to perform at the festival.
“We were able to fund everybody who applied for a grant,” he said, adding that therefore, the payment to Plaskett would not short-change anyone else.
Kelly Spurles said Plaskett would draw people into Sackville generating lots of business activity.
The contract with Plaskett for his performance at the festival is expected to be signed soon.
Meantime, Mayor Higham reported at last night’s council meeting that the Southeast Regional Service Commission, the body that co-ordinates planning in southeastern New Brunswick, is moving ahead with a long-term strategy to attract more tourists to the area.
The mayor said he attended the commission’s meeting last month where he heard a series of recommendations based on studies conducted for the city of Moncton and the commission.
The recommendations include creating a regional marketing organization governed by people in the tourism business to promote destinations in the southeast.
Higham said financing for such regional marketing would come from a four per cent tax on hotel rooms similar to one adopted in the Ottawa area.
He added that three-quarters of the tax revenue would finance marketing efforts with the rest going to improve tourism destination sites.
The mayor said tourism operators in the Sackville area favour a hotel tax, but he suggested much more planning needs to be done before regional officials can ask the province for legislation that would allow the four per cent municipal levy to be implemented.
Potholes and paving
Councillor Bruce Phinney read a report from the Engineering and Public Works Department that would not surprise anyone driving or cycling in Sackville.
“The harsh winter has taken its toll on the streets and roads around town,” Phinney said, “and we are experiencing a large number of potholes.”
He then moved a motion awarding a $276,000 contract for “street asphalt patching” to the lowest of four bidders, Costin Paving and Contracting of Amherst.
It emerged during discussion, however, that Costin originally bid more than $325,000 to supply 700 tonnes of pothole-filling asphalt, the amount the town had specified in its tender package.
Town engineer Dwayne Acton explained the town had to reduce the asphalt to 552 tonnes to stay within budget.
Acton was asked whether all of the town’s potholes can still be filled.
“We’re going to do our best to stretch the patching as far as we can given the road conditions,” he replied.
“There are several things that we do look at. There are some areas that have small alligator cracks,” he said, adding that the town will focus on potholes and broken pavement leaving the smaller cracks for another year.
In the meantime, councillors approved using all of the money the town receives this year from the federal gas tax fund for paving projects.
That means that $367,359 will be spent paving 1,000 metres of Walker Road, 1,000 metres of Stanley Drive, 135 metres of University Avenue and 85 metres of Hesler Drive.
A report from Sackville’s treasurer shows that since 2014, the town has spent $1.9 million in gas tax funds on paving. Over the next five years, it plans to spend $1.9 million more.
For Treasurer Michael Beal’s breakdown on gas tax funds and how they were and will be used, click here.