St. John’s restores tax break for residents not on city water and sewer

Daniel MacEachern
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St. John’s city council Monday reinstated a mill-rate reduction for residents who aren’t hooked up to city water and sewer services — because the city’s own taxation act requires it.

Dennis O'Keefe.

In December, city council approved the 2016 budget, which eliminated the half-mill reduction. But a release from the city Monday said “closer examination of the City of St. John’s Municipal Taxation Act” revealed a reduction — the act doesn’t specify how much — is required under Section 4.3.

After the meeting, Coun. Jonathan Galgay, chairman of the city’s finance committee, said the mistake was concerning.

Related story:

Puddister to plead for policy

“We rely on staff for that advice,” he said. “Council had some very, very stern discussions today with senior staff about that. We apologize for the miscommunication, but moving forward we’ll be more diligent in terms of reviewing our acts to ensure we have the best possible information.”

Coun. Wally Collins, whose Ward 5 includes Goulds, which would see many, if not most, of the residents affected, said reinstating the tax break was the right move, given the expense of septic system installation and maintenance.

Coun. Art Puddister expressed doubt about where the $450,000 the city expected to generate with the tax hike would come from.

Derek Coffey, the city’s manager of financial management, said there will be further reductions through the year, while a news release from the city said the money will come from a combination of expenditure reductions already realized from early retirements the city gave to several senior staff late last year and savings through continuous review and improvement of programs.

“We will look across the entire city budget,” said Coffey.

Mayor Dennis O’Keefe said expenditure reduction is an ongoing process at the city, with the goal of making small cuts today to prevent greater impacts in future years.

“So be assured, Coun. Puddister, that that re-evaluation will take place, and a reduction in expenditures will also be in place as we go through 2016 and into 2017,” said O’Keefe.

When Puddister started to respond, O’Keefe declared him out of order and noted Puddister had already used his allotted speaking time on the issue.

Twitter: @DanMacEachern

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Recent comments

  • Jayne
    January 05, 2016 - 15:40

    Why not print the comment from our Mayor to Art Puddister, " You can't suck and blow at the same time". Rude and disgusting from the ever arrogant Mayor, whose departure is long overdue. Why not give the true essence of how the Mayor speaks to Council members.

  • Ryan
    January 05, 2016 - 13:59

    Do these location pay the $630 per unit for water service? if they don't pay it then they shouldn't get a rate reduction as well.

  • Sad
    January 05, 2016 - 11:48

    "When Puddister started to respond, O’Keefe declared him out of order and noted Puddister had already used his allotted speaking time on the issue." Is this how the mayor should act??? This is disgusting. You can't argue a point because of a time limit??

    • Dolf
      January 05, 2016 - 14:52

      Y'er wrong Sad. Some councilors would talk your head off all nite long doing nothing more than playing politics, ask Steve Kent. Time limits are imposed for a darn good reason. In the meantime this budget must have been put together by incompetents.

    • Resident
      January 05, 2016 - 15:54

      Yes, that was quite a childish act. Especially considering Dic got his dirty little dig in first. O'Keefe is the perfect example of that old saying about changing governments and diapers.

  • guy incognito
    January 05, 2016 - 09:30

    Time to go Doc. You are a bully.

  • Former municipal administrator
    January 05, 2016 - 08:32

    I am not familiar with the City of St John's Act, but as a former administrator operating under The Municipalities Act, there is no allowable "discount" for properties that are not connected to municipal water/sewer. The Section 108 (Discount) provision is for early payment of taxes prior to the deadline date. Section 112 sets out the provision for levying property tax. " (2) For the purpose of establishing a real property tax, there may be imposed with respect to real property used for residential purposes one rate of tax and, with respect to commercial property, another rate of tax. " ONE rate of discounts in mill rate because the property is not connected to water and sewer. With the City of St John's granting a discount, they are quite likely causing residents of other towns to think they are also entitled to such a tax break and causing confusion.

    • Tom
      January 05, 2016 - 14:17

      And so they should. Why should someone pay the exact same rate with no water and sewer as someone with water and sewer? And they never should have to.