Northeast Town garners input from ratepayers for 2017 budget

LITTLE CURRENT—The Northeast Town council held a public input meeting for the 2017 municipal budget, which brought out organizations such as the NEMI Taxpayers and several residents.

Northeast Town Mayor Al MacNevin explained that the purpose of the meeting was to gather input for the 2017 municipal budget, prior to staff beginning the process. Input provided could be incorporated by staff into the budget for council’s approval, or councillors could bring up a suggestion at a future budget meeting.

Zac Nichols was the first to speak to council. He asked council to consider building a sidewalk on Draper Street East.

“I would like to see a sidewalk on Draper Street East put on the public works sidewalk priority list,” said Mr. Nichols. “I would also like to have it in the top three on the list. I realize it might not be Draper Street, but I would like to see at least one sidewalk built in 2017 as one wasn’t built this year.”

Mr. Nichols explained that a number of students use Draper Street East to get to school and a sidewalk would help increase safety.

“This sidewalk is supported by the neighbours I surveyed, Little Current Public School (LCPS), and the LCPS Parent Council,” said Mr. Nichols. “Seniors on the street would also benefit from the sidewalk.”

One gentleman commented that there should be a ‘school zone’ sign on Draper Street.

Mark Volpini spoke on behalf of the NEMI Taxpayers Association. He noted that the association was lucky as it was in ongoing discussions with staff and council regarding the budget.

“We are here tonight to reinforce that relationship,” said Mr. Volpini. “Our message is that we understand that the job that is done around this council table is difficult and that the job is even tougher for council given the decreased amount of disposable income in taxpayer’s pockets.”

Mr. Volpini said that the provincial debt is the highest it’s ever been and that the NEMI Taxpayers knows the municipality is strapped, “but we ask that council continue to exercise diligence.”

Mr. Volpini also said that he saw what he felt was a record number of homes for sale in the real estate section of The Expositor, speculating that it was a sign that people couldn’t afford their homes.

John Finley told council that the increases to taxes in the municipality were too high last year and that it wasn’t sustainable. “If people are going to choose between eating dinner or paying taxes they are going to choose dinner,” Mr. Finley said.

Mayor MacNevin concluded the meeting stating that he appreciated everyone who attended the meeting and voiced their comments and concerns.

He added that there are a number of costs that the municipally has no control over such as EMS and policing that are increasing annually. “It is a struggle for council to keep taxes down when there are a number of bills that are out of our control,” he said, noting that council will continue to do its best.