© Paul Hutchings
Deer Lake deputy mayor Sandra Pinksen reads the town’s municipal budget for 2014 on Monday, Dec. 30, 2013, while Coun. Kerry Jones reads along.
DEER LAKE — Residents will pay the same mill rate they paid in 2013, according to the new municipal budget, released during a public meeting Monday night by Deer Lake council.
The mill rate will stay at 7.5 with a minimum rate of $495 per year for homeowners. Business taxes will stay at the same mill rate, with a minimum yearly rate of $399. Water and sewer rates will be set at $448 and the minimum poll tax will be set at $345.
The budget, read into the council minutes by Deer Lake Deputy Mayor Sandra Pinksen, revealed there were 47 new housing starts in 2013 with a total value of just over $10 million.
Also, approximately 12 new business startups took place throughout the year.
The budget includes several projects to be started at various times during 2014. Water and sewer improvements will be made, as well as improvements to the town’s lift station. Council will save for a new ladder truck for the fire department and the creation of a dog park, similar to the one in Pasadena, will be introduced.
The town’s debt is being addressed as well, with money being put aside for debt reduction and the retirement of several loans. Mayor Dean Ball said around $500,000 of the debt should be erased by August .
“I think this is a good budget,” he told council during the meeting.
“(The new year) will be an outstanding one for us. We will reap some benefits afforded to us by our own spending habits in a cost effective manner.”
He added that 2014 will have more opportunities for business in Deer Lake.
Five of the six councillors voted for the budget. Coun. Kerry Jones voted against it because of staff raises included within the document. Jones said he had no issue with giving raises, just how they were implemented.
“If they’re going to give raises I would have preferred to see them given out over a period of time, not all at once,” he said. “Staff members deserve raises, of course, but some of them are pretty big raises.”
He pointed out that some staff members are getting a 14 per cent salary increase.
Pinksen said she was pleased with the budget.
“We had a good year (in 2013),” she said. “I think it’s a good budget, it’s fair and I think it will serve us well.”
The budget was originally supposed to be released during a public meeting Dec. 16 but had to be delayed to “crunch some numbers further,” according to the mayor that night.
More will be released in the next few days when the budget documents are released later this week.