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Less tax-y, more spend-y

Mike Fleury balances the budget.

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Ah, spring—a magical time for a young premier. So many firsts. Last week, rookie premier Rodney MacDonald released his first budget as leader of the provincial Progressive Conservative party, and the Rod’ster aimed to please. Taxes, cut! Spending, up! NDP campaign pledges, borrowed! (The budget included an eight percent sales tax rebate on home heating bills, a policy original proposed by the NDP. But hey, good ideas belong to everyone, right?) From the city’s perspective, mayor Peter Kelly had a mixed reaction to the provincial budget, saying that the municipality stands to save money in some areas (like education), but will have to spend more money in others (like public housing and correctional services). The generally good-news budget has added to speculation that a provincial election call isn’t far behind. Keep your ears open for an announcement this weekend, and warm up your good voting hand for a summertime election—another potential Rodney first. They grow up so fast!

Leaders of the new school

Ubiquitous development company Pomerleau Construction has been awarded the contract to build Citadel High School on the Halifax Common, the new super-school scheduled to replace both Queen Elizabeth High and St. Pat’s High by the fall of 2007. The school will be erected on the former site of the Nova Scotia Community College, which is now demolished. The high school, which will serve roughly 1,200 students and cost about $29 million, is far from the only project Pomerleau has undertaken in the Halifax area. In fact, it’s not even the first local education facility built by the Quebec-based company—Dalhousie University students may remember Pomerleau as the construction company behind their relatively new Kenneth C. Rowe Management Building.

They know something we don’t know

We don’t know what they saw, but we know they liked it. After being given a “thorough briefing” by the Commonwealth Games Bid Committee, city council announced that they “unanimously approved HRM’s portion of the proposed International Bid budget” to bring the Commonwealth Games to Halifax. Unfortunately, both the vote and the briefing were held in private, and the specifics of the bid were not made available to the public. Funding details are being withheld until all three levels of government formally approve their portion of the Games’ budget, which could take months. If you’re already getting sick of the Commonwealth Games debate, this ain’t good news.

Going in circles

An update for Metro motorists: Last week, Reality Bites reported on city councillor Linda Mosher’s call for the provincial government to clarify the true nature of the Armdale Rotary. Is it really a rotary? Or a roundabout? Or just a big round headache? We know you’ve probably been losing sleep over this, so finally, we offer a definitive answer. This past week, after a conversation with the province’s Department of Transportation and Public Works, city officials reported that the TPW described the rotary as “not really a rotary or a roundabout,” but rather—brace yourself—“a circular piece of roadway, with traffic signals.” Finally, a title that makes sense!

Yield your tips: michaelf@thecoast.ca

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