Nova Scotia

Baddeck finances still uncertain ahead of AGM

Taxes and spending are up in the Village of Baddeck's new budget, but sewer and water utility revenues are still being worked on, says the village's latest interim chief administrative officer. A new budget will be presented to residents Wednesday.

Taxes and spending are up; sewer and water utility revenues still being worked on, says new interim CAO

Welcome to Baddeck sign
Warden Bruce Morrison says electric golf carts would be a great way to get people and goods around the tourist village of Baddeck. (Tom Ayers/CBC)

The financially troubled Village of Baddeck is presenting a new budget to residents this week, with increased taxes and spending.

Revenue projections from the sewer and water utilities were still being worked on late last week, but interim chief administrative officer Sandy Hudson said the Nova Scotia village's finances should be in good shape by the end of the year.

"We are under a ministerial order and will be until the third of January," Hudson said on Friday. "My hope would be that when that [order] is gone, I'm gone. That would be my limit. I've been retired four years and I liked it."

The village's chief administrative officer was fired last year and the minister of municipal affairs subsequently demanded the elected commission straighten out its affairs.

Retired Richmond County CAO Maris Freimanis was appointed to run the village on an interim basis until last month when Hudson, Victoria County's retired CAO, took over.

One of the terms of the ministerial order is for the village to hire a full-time chief administrative officer or clerk/treasurer.

New staff needed

Hudson said an ad for a full-time head of staff probably won't be posted at least until the village hires a new public works director and a finance clerk.

"To come in here and try to put two new staff people in and then bring somebody in to replace me, then all three would be brand new, and that, I think, would be trouble," he said.

The village sent out a letter a couple of weeks ago notifying residents that the annual general meeting will be held on Wednesday evening and saying the commission had "approved a budget of $689,180," which is higher than last year's actual spending of $631,222.

Earlier this year, the accounting firm MNP said the village's budget last year was more than $1 million.

Hudson said that would have included the sewer and water utilities, but the new budget does not.

The notice to residents said the commissioners also increased residential and commercial taxes by five cents per $100 of assessment, but the budget that was included with the letter was missing a page of notes.

It also contained no revenue projections.

Hudson said that's because the commission had not yet agreed on what the new sewer rates would be.

Sewer rates to rise

"Those ... will be released on Wednesday, I presume," he said.

"The revenue is showing a fairly large increase in sewer rates, which we actually have not settled on yet, so that's probably why that wasn't put there."

One of the difficulties is that sewer fee collections are behind schedule, Hudson said.

The village is now collecting for the period January to June, which includes three months from the last fiscal year and three from the new fiscal year.

So any rate change will only affect the new budget starting in July.

Water rates could take a year

Revenues from the water utility are fixed, for now, but an application will be going to the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board later this year for increases.

Hudson said it could be spring before new water rates are put in place.

The annual general meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. local time Wednesday in the MacAulay Conference Centre at the Inverary Inn and will include elections for several positions on the village commission.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tom Ayers

Reporter/Editor

Tom Ayers has been a reporter and editor for 36 years. He has spent half of them covering Cape Breton and Nova Scotia stories. You can reach him at tom.ayers@cbc.ca.

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