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Deer Lake aims to tackle the cost of waste management by adding a new fee

Coun. Amanda Freake, chair of the Town of Deer Lake’s finance committee, reads her budget speech during Monday night’s council meeting.
Coun. Amanda Freake, chair of the Town of Deer Lake’s finance committee, reads her budget speech during Monday night’s council meeting. - Diane Crocker

Residents and businesses in Deer Lake won’t pay more in property taxes this year, but they will have to pay for waste management.

In her first budget as chair of the town’s finance committee, Coun. Amanda Freake announced a $116.50 per unit fee for waste management on Monday night.

In her speech, Freake said waste tipping fees have added some $338,000 to the town’s waste management costs.

Had the town gone with the Western Regional Waste Management Board’s recommended per location pickup cost, the amount would have $291 per unit.

But Freake said the town was able to reduce the burden on taxpayers by reallocating funds. The fee works out to approximately $2.24 per week.

In the end, Freake presented a $7,660,553 balanced budget, which with the exception of the waste management piece, was approved by the council.

Coun. Gordon Hancock declared a conflict of interest on the waste management item, which was approved separately by the remaining councillors.

The only member not present for the meeting was Deputy Mayor Mike Goosney, and there was no explanation given for his absence.

There were 20 people present in the gallery at the town hall for the council meeting.

Following the meeting, Mayor Dean Ball said council put the waste management cost as a separate line item in the budget to be open and transparent, so that residents would know where their money is going.

Ball said the town could have increased taxes by half or a quarter of a mill and hidden the waste management cost behind that.

“But I think the people deserve to know exactly what this means to them.”

He said the cost is not something that was caused by the town.

“This is caused by a previous (provincial) government.”

The mayor's brother is current premier, Dwight Ball.

Money collected through the waste management fee will only be used for that and for now the town thinks the amount set will be enough to cover the costs it will incur. Both Ball and Freake said there is a plan in place should the cost rise.

But that’s just for 2018 and Ball noted that in a year from now waste management could cost over $300 per unit.

Being that it’s all based on tonnage, the goal for the town will be to reduce the tonnage of waste it will have to pay tipping fees on.

Currently there is no bag limit in the town, but Freake said that will change as the town works to revamp its waste policy. Part of the process will include an educational piece for residents on what they can do to reduce the amount of waste they send to the landfill.

“Everybody has to be part of the initiatives,” said Freake.

 

Deer Lake budget highlights

  • Mill rate for residents and commercial businesses remains at 7 mills
  • Waste management $116.50 per unit for residents and commercial businesses, apartments buildings minimum  $233 with every four units being $116.50
  • Poll tax $345
  • The charge for letters for tax certificates, compliance letters and letters of confirmation was increased to $100
  • Property tax discounts — 3 per cent reduction if paid by Jan. 31, and 2 per cent if paid by Feb. 28

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