Report finds excessive spending among NL cities

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A new report shows that Canadian cities including those in this province are overspending and households are footing the bill.

The report comes from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) and shows overspending has cost each household in Canada more than $7,800 in the past 12 years.

 Fourteen cities were analyzed across the country, including St. John’s. The population in this province’s capital city grew by eight per cent from 2001 to 2011, while the city’s spending was calculated to have risen by 47 per cent after inflation-adjustment. CFIB also looked at the spending trends in Mount Pearl and Corner Brook, both of which they described as having increased operating spending excessively during the past 11 years, while experiencing declines in their populations.

 “We already knew that our largest cities were living way beyond their means,” CFIB’s executive vice-president, Laura Jones said in a news release. “But it turns out even smaller cities are living large. And whether it’s today or tomorrow, we all pay the price through higher taxes.”

 According to the release, some small business owners in Newfoundland and Labrador pay between two and five times more municipal tax than community residents. There are also increased fees for such things as permits, licences and some services.   

“We recognize some municipalities are looking at ways to control their spending,” Vaughn Hammond, director of provincial affairs for Newfoundland and Labrador said in the release. “For example, the new city council in Corner Brook has identified municipal spending as a significant issue and, through its efforts, the city’s 2014 budget forecasts operational spending to decrease 1.5 per cent this year. This has to continue to ensure the city’s future sustainability.”

 The release does say that the provincial government is currently consulting on a new fiscal framework.

“The discussion on the fiscal framework has largely been focused on the revenue that municipalities are able to generate,” said Hammond. “However, we show in this report that serious consideration has to be given to how they spend our tax dollars.”

Organizations: Canadian Federation of Independent Business

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Corner Brook, Canada Mount Pearl

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Recent comments

  • John
    May 28, 2014 - 17:31

    As long as there is "Representative Democracy/Government", issues such as these will remain. Research "Direct-Democracy" and an equal money system.

  • Christopher Chafe
    May 28, 2014 - 17:11

    You only have yourselves to blame. People seem to have no problem what so ever in allowing subdivision after subdivision after subdivision to be approved by council, but when a developer comes with a proposal for a condo tower, people bring out their usual speel and say but it does not belong in the city. Until the city wakes up and realizes that the city proper needs to be densified there will always be over spending, do not get me started on the little trivial trinket vanity projects that have been going on.

  • Guy Incognito
    May 28, 2014 - 17:06

    Hopefully Doc won't run again........

  • Have they no shame?
    May 28, 2014 - 15:21

    "The population in this province’s capital city grew by eight per cent from 2001 to 2011, while the city’s spending was calculated to have risen by 47 per cent after inflation-adjustment." ............And this is what happens when the city and its assessment minions have more power than the Constabulary. Their powers of search are truly diabolical. Read the St. John's Act. Up to a month in jail for refusing them entry into your house - no warrant required.

    • John
      May 29, 2014 - 09:51

      The same article stated that the provision has never been used. I believe that the counsellor quoted for the article is being quite devious in describing tax assessors as 'home inspectors'. My question would be: 'did you bring an infrared camera to inspect my insulation.

  • guy incognito
    May 28, 2014 - 14:02

    No surprise here. Bloated communications departments, harbor fences, ice skating loops. bike lanes, millions for parks...... Doc and council's beautification and luxury projects are wasting out tax dollars....then demand entrance to our homes so we can be further gouged.....

  • Maxwell J.
    May 28, 2014 - 14:00

    A half million for an ugly fence around the harbour (for which the city wasn't even responsible), multi-million dollar park developments including outdoor skating rinks, consulting studies on annexing neighbouring cities, relief contributions to third world countries, million dollar art expenditures, huge travel budgets, more public relations staff to keep media away from councillors, and on and on - all while side streets remain unploughed days after a storm and little old ladies struggle over snowbanks in an effort to navigate dangerous sidewalks. Take into account that, even without raising mill rates, city coffers are bursting at the seams with cash from aggressive property valuations and resultant sky high tax bills. Is this council out of control? It is, we have known it for some time, and now it's nice to see an outside group confirm it for us. But here's the thing. Only last fall, voters put almost all the same crowd back in office. Barely half of those eligible even bothered to vote. So while I sympathize deeply with those people on modest salaries, fixed incomes, modest pensions and the like trying to hang onto their homes - especially those who actually voted for change - you have to conclude that a great many citizens are happy with the government they've got. Granted, some people have become so disillusioned with politicians that they've given up hope of holding them accountable. But voting and voicing your opinion does work. Look no further than yesterday's decision by council to hold off on new ways to extract more money from you for bringing your own garbage to the dump. Look at Breen's public retreat last week from the storm-troopers banging on your door in a scheme to up your tax bill even more. For God's sake, stop suffering in silence. Exercise your right of free speech. Say something!

  • John Q Public
    May 28, 2014 - 13:43

    Its not only cities, the smaller communities are doing it as well. Portugal Cove-St. Phillips for example. A town with a population of about 7000 that is planning to spend $25,000,000 on a recreational complex. At the same time only about 30% of homes have town water and sewer, the streets are in deplorable condition and homeowners are paying close to the highest property tax rates in the province. We are in dire need of some "accountability" protocols for those that spend taxpayers money!!!!!!!!!!

    May 28, 2014 - 12:51

    Doc O'Keefe want us to be a world class city, with only 100,000 people, with world class property taxes. The St. John's Board of Trade has questioned the annual 8-9% increases in expenditure the city has made, to no avail. Doc has his comfy Teachers salary and what he get from city hall, what about the rest of us. Next time, I will vote for who ever says they will cut property taxes.

  • Brian Collins
    May 28, 2014 - 12:04

    The St. John's city council pays its employees 20% more than their provincial counterparts, yet it has the audacity to go to the Province far too often with 'cap in hand', looking for more money. They need to get their fiscal house in order first. The feds and province have decreased personal taxes in the past decade, while council has nearly doubled it; quite outlandish don't you think?