Municipalities don’t have spending problem: O’Keefe

Daniel MacEachern
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St. John’s Mayor Dennis O’Keefe rejected a new report that says municipalities have a spending problem, not a revenue problem.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) on Monday released a report that accused municipalities of misrepresenting how much tax money they take in.

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities says cities get eight cents out of every tax dollar collected in Canada, but the business federation says that figure doesn’t account for provincial and federal transfers. When transfer payments are factored in, says the report, municipalities get 15 cents of every tax dollar.

O’Keefe said he wants city staff to evaluate the specific proportion that St. John’s receives, but criticized the business federation’s suggestion municipalities are overspending.

“They’re indicating that our spending is out of control or we’re spending too much money,” he said. “Right across Canada, Canadians, including all the members of the CFIB, demand services from their cities and towns, and these services cost money. They don’t come free, and that money — I can only speak for this city — is well spent in providing the services that people who live in this city, including members of small and large businesses, need.”

O’Keefe said he’ll discuss the report at this week’s meeting of the Big City Mayors’ Caucus in Ottawa.

• • •

City council gave formal approval to amendments that will allow a downtown rooftop hotel to go ahead, following the required public meeting.

The amendments restrict the use  of the parking garage on Clift’s/Baird’s Cove to “its historic and existing use,” meaning owner Sonco will renovate it as part of its proposal, which would see a three-storey extension — a hotel or apartments — added to the top.

The public meeting, held in mid-January, resulted in several recommendations from the meeting commissioner, including:

‰ The city should evaluate current parking service and discuss with the owner the possibility of exentending opening hours to evenings and weekends;

‰ The city should ensure the development incorporates a hotel, not apartments, which would “provide the greater net benefit” to downtown;

‰ The city should study pedestrian and vehicular traffic downtown to assess the effect of the proposed development.

Critics of the project at the meeting objected to the release of the property from downtown height restrictions and said the addition will do little to enhance downtown.

• • •

Donations to residents displaced by last week’s fire at Maplewood Place apartments should go to the Red Cross, says the city.

“We have been getting calls from residents who want to help and want to donate,” said Ward 2 Coun. Jonathan Galgay. “Many of the (Maplewood Place) residents don’t have tenant insurance.”

Galgay said anyone who wants to help should contact the Red Cross at 758-8418.

Twitter: @TelegramDaniel

Organizations: Canadian Federation of Independent Business, Federation of Canadian Municipalities, Caucus in Ottawa. Red Cross

Geographic location: Canada, Big, Maplewood Place

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Recent comments

  • guy incognito
    February 25, 2014 - 07:38

    Why do the papers keep giving headlines to Doc?? Why does his opinion matter? He is clueless. He is the authority on nothing..... Look at some of his pet projects around town... He also thinks our population isn't declining....

  • Joe
    February 25, 2014 - 07:33

    Is that so Doc? Well why is it that every time new construction is approved the only comment by councilors is the new revenue and nothing about the increased expenses as if they don't exist?

  • Don II
    February 25, 2014 - 07:23

    It recently was brought to my attention that the Department of Municipal Affairs has approved the use by town councils of gas tax rebate funding for purposes other than road maintenance, paving and construction . The gas tax rebate money can now be used for other municipal projects and in some cases was used to pay land use planning consultants for updated municipal land use planning and mapping work! It appears that many town councils are spending well beyond their means and have no concern about borrowing or raising taxes to cover the cost of pushing their own pet projects at tax payer expense!

  • Jay
    February 25, 2014 - 07:20

    They certainly do have a problem with over spending. There are about 200 municipalities in this province of 500,000. Despite Doc's assertions, this province doesn't have the population of a decent sized city, but we have way too many municipal politicians whining for more money on a daily basis. We need to amalgamate these small towns to cut down on the duplication which is occurring. As for St. John's, all Doc wants to do is build his own little empire. He's proven this time and time again. No wonder the province is holding off on his "new fiscal arrangement."

  • kd
    February 25, 2014 - 07:06

    Mr okeefe and rest of tbe council spend like druken sailors with no checks and balances and no one has to be accountable maybe tbe auditor general should start checking the books in the community where i live it seems every worker has a pickup which they use as their own personal vehicle

  • Crazy
    February 25, 2014 - 05:27

    Oh yes they do, Just look around...and take your head out of the sand pile..