SHELBURNE, N.S. – The Municipality of the District of Shelburne has approved an operating budget of just over $7.5 million for the 2018/19 fiscal year beginning April 1, maintaining the current residential and resource tax rate of $1.26 per $100 of assessment and current commercial tax rate of $1.82 per $100 of assessment.
Quality health care, high-speed Internet access, further development of the Shelburne Marine Industrial Park, the pursuit of creating a Marine Centre of Excellence, and further steps towards a new municipal administrative centre are among the priorities in the budget, approved at the March 26 meeting of council.
“Last year’s budget set the foundation and groundwork for the investments that our council believed we needed to make over the next four years, to ensure growth and development in our community through prudent investments in our programs, services and infrastructure,” said Warden Penny Smith in her address to council.
Quality health care “remains a top priority” for the upcoming fiscal year for the municipality.
“We will continue to support, with other Shelburne County municipalities, funding for bursaries for health-care students who agree to work in our community for a minimum of two years after graduation, as well as health-care recruitment and retention. We will also continue discussions with the Nova Scotia Health Authority and other stakeholders to seek solutions to the other health-care challenges facing our community,” said Smith. “With an older population and many people that work in primary sectors like the fishery, health care is critical to our community.”
The municipality’s action plan to provide high-speed Internet service “is one of the most ambitious in the province,” Smith said.
Phase 1 was completed last fall, extending capacity to a number of premises in Sandy Point, including the Shelburne Marine Industrial Park, Ohio and Jordan Falls.
“We are still anxiously awaiting federal funding approval for Phase 2,” said Smith, which will include more homes in Sandy Point and Ohio, as well as Welshtown, and from Reid’s Hill through to Northeast Harbour.
“These two phases will cost approximately $2 million, with the municipality’s share being almost $700,000, and will see more than 50 per cent of the dwellings with proper service,” Smith said.
“Once Phase 2 is completed, the municipality plans to begin Phase 3A, which includes the areas of East Jordan, West Green Harbour, East Green Harbour, Lydgate, Lockeport Station, Western Head, Town of Lockeport and part of Sable River, covering 1,188 premises. “
Phase 3B includes Jordan Ferry, Sandy Point Road to civic #4527, including Bush Road, covering an additional 57 premises. The total cost for these two phases is approximately $1.4 million, plus HST. The cost to the municipality is $525,740 including HST, plus the Town of Lockeport’s contribution of $100,000, including HST, towards this cost to service their town.
When it comes to further development of the Shelburne Marine Industrial Park, Smith said the municipality has been working on the concept of a Marine Centre of Excellence.
“There is no more appropriate location for a scientific-based marine research facility in Nova Scotia than in Shelburne County,” she said. “This year, council will establish a local steering committee and access funding and community partnerships with governments, education, and private-sector entrepreneurs to develop a strong local marine capacity to greatly impact safety and sustainability of the marine sector.”
Plans for a new municipal administrative centre are also proceeding, the warden said. Last year the municipality purchased 35 acres of land across from Shelburne Regional High School as a potential site for a new administration building.
“Since that time there have been numerous discussions with other levels of government with respect to potential federal and provincial partners,” Smith said. “We have worked with our architect and potential tenants to prepare a conceptual design of the building and will continue to seek out new building tenants to reduce the financial impact to the municipality, with a goal of retaining as many government services locally as possible, and increasing services when opportunities present themselves.”
She said once the municipality has confirmation of tenants, they will reach out to the public to discuss ways the proposed tenants will continue to provide and enhance services to the community in the long term. Initial estimates for the capital cost of the building are $11 million, with potentially two-thirds of the building being occupied by non-municipal tenants and paying rent to offset the debt payments for the new building construction and yearly operating costs.
“Along with our noted priorities, we will also be working on a number of programs and initiatives during next fiscal year,” Smith said.
She said these include working on a long-term asset management plan, working with community partners on housing initiatives, developing a more robust seniors’ focus in recreation programs and platinum program marketing, and a capital project at the C & D site which will include re-alignment of the road, fence replacement, a new office/storage building, septic and well.
Other things on the municipality’s plate include collaborating with other community stakeholders for a new skateboard park with a three-year total funding commitment of $58,000, replacing the current stone marker at the grave site in Pine Cemetery of the Former Alms House residence with a more suitable acknowledgment with all names listed, partnering with the Municipality of Barrington on a Travelling VIC and other tourism projects, providing assistance to the Woodland Multi-use Trail Association, implementing a business façade/signage and community beautification program, and researching and determining the feasibility of establishing a boat launch for small-to-medium-size boats and required parking.
Smith said the budget “is the continuation of investing in our community and our residents by doing it strategically and within our own fiscal resources entrusted to us by the community.” She added they “will continue to work with neighbouring municipalities and others to become as efficient and effective as possible by sharing resources where possible to help keep costs lower.”