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Atikokan deals with debt

Atikokan mayor is looking for ways to deal with debt.
Dennis Brown
Atikokan mayor Dennis Brown

ATIKOKAN, Ont. -- The town of Atikokan is looking for ways to deal with the debt the community has accumulated over the past few years.

While there are several economic opportunities on the horizon, there has been some expenses the town has had to pay for recently.

Despite being in the red almost $6 million, the city is looking to spend almost $5 million over the next five years to upgrade some of its oldest assets.

Mayor Dennis Brown says the sewage treatment plant is almost 50 years old and is due for a refit, but a large portion of the upgrades will be to the pumping stations, specifically pump station seven.

“It’s the biggest one that we have and it’s going to be completely rebuilt,” Brown said. “The other one is pump station five over near the tennis court, we’re kind of doing some retrofitting there, upgrading, not completely rebuilding.”

The project is costly, Brown said, but thanks to some grants from the province in the amount of $2.8 million, the town only has to foot the bill for $1.4 million.

Brown added they already have a solution to keep the town deficit free.

“We can spread it out over five years, we can pay a little bit of it each year. It will come out of our annual budget.”

Brown said this method of payment was important to him as the town is trying to erase nearly $6 million dollars in debt, part of which he attributes to no federal funding assistance in the construction of the communities new Wellness Centre.

This set the town back almost $1 million, however, Brown admits some debt can be good for communities.

“On the other side of the coin is that we’ve found that if we want to get grants we have to apply for an asset management plan,” Brown said. “In order to apply for grants usually it’s because you have a debt problem. If you don’t have any debt, chances are you’re not going to get a grant.”

(Northwest Newsweek)