Council OK's 0.9 mill rate reduction

Deana Stokes Sullivan
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Municipal

Residential and commercial property tax rates in St. John's will be cut by 0.9 of a mill in the coming year.

The reduction was approved at a council meeting Monday night as part of the city's 2010 budget totalling more than $203 million.

The budget also includes a property tax reduction of 20 per cent, up from 15 per cent in 2009, for seniors who receive the federal guaranteed income supplement.

Residential and commercial property tax rates in St. John's will be cut by 0.9 of a mill in the coming year.

The reduction was approved at a council meeting Monday night as part of the city's 2010 budget totalling more than $203 million.

The budget also includes a property tax reduction of 20 per cent, up from 15 per cent in 2009, for seniors who receive the federal guaranteed income supplement.

Three rejected budget

Councillors Tom Hann, Bruce Tilley and Danny Breen voted against the budget because they felt the tax cuts didn't go far enough.

The residential realty tax in 2010 will be 10.1 mills, commercial realty tax will be 16.3 mills, and the general business occupancy tax rate will be 16.83 mills.

Annual water taxes for residential and commercial properties not taxed by water meters will increase by $50 to $570.

Business taxes, based on a percentage of revenue, will range from 0.257 per cent per year for productive agricultural lands to 6.545 per cent for banks, trust companies and credit unions.

Hann said he's pleased property taxes will be further reduced for seniors, but he couldn't raise his hand in favour of the budget because he would have preferred to see a greater mill rate reduction.

"Unfortunately, we are not where I wanted to be," Hann said, explaining he had hoped for a reduction of at least one to 1.5 mills. He said in the future, the city needs to look at how to derive more revenue from development projects to reduce the tax burden on citizens.

Although he's also in favour of the tax break for seniors, Tilley said he committed during the municipal election that he would not vote for a tax increase in 2010.

In order to have no increase in taxes next year, Tilley said there would have to be a mill rate reduction of between 2.5 and three mills.

Tilley said higher property assessments have increased business taxes by about 17 per cent and residential taxes by about 12 per cent.

Breen said he couldn't support the budget because he doesn't believe council delved deeply enough to find cost efficiencies which could have allowed a further mill rate reduction.

The business community had also hoped for deeper cuts.

Derek Sullivan, the St. John's Board of Trade's 2010 incoming chairman, said the board had asked for a proportional reduction in mill rates.

Businesses are already paying a greater percentage share of the tax burden, Sullivan said, through higher mill rates. "So, what you're looking at when you do an across the board cut of 0.9, you're getting a lower percentage reduction for business. What we wanted to see was a reduction on a percentage basis," he said, so all groups would be treated fairly.

But Sullivan said the board welcomes council's apparent willingness to review its taxation methods in the future.

"We always, as a board of trade, take a long-term view, and we're looking at the long-term interest of the business community which ultimately, especially in this case, coincides with the long-term interests of residents because you're talking about economic development, job creation and growth and overall competitiveness, so we're all on the same team here. We need to treat each other fairly," he said.

Bradley George, director of provincial affairs for the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), echoed those sentiments.

"My initial thought is that the rate reduction doesn't go far enough," he said. However, George said it's positive that council did recognize the need to consider commercial taxation as well in its deliberations.

He said CFIB members believe there are efficiencies to be found at city hall.

George said if council doesn't look at cost-cutting measures and efficiencies, he fears it won't bode well for future budgets.

"The CFIB's focus will be working with councillors to find efficiencies in 2010," he said.

The city's projected expenditures for 2010 total $203,795,169, a $17,057,439 increase over 2009.

dss@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Canadian Federation of Independent Business, St. John's Board of Trade

Geographic location: St. John's

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Comments

Comments

Recent comments

  • Derrick
    July 02, 2010 - 13:34

    Just wait until the under-funded pensions of the employees kick in.
    About 2012 it should start and then
    watch out.

  • Bob
    July 02, 2010 - 13:32

    Just wait....this will all be Randy Simms fault....because when things are going south, nothing distracts from the real issues (like pay raises at City Hall) and gets the corner boys riled up like talk of the 'Brown Baggers' beating up on the Townies roads. Amalgamate the works I say....all the way to Roaches Line.

  • FOR SALE
    July 02, 2010 - 13:31

    That's it, I am now beginning the process of putting my house on the market in hopes of selling and moving out of this city.

    The council has no problem with travel junkets, arts funding, subsidizing white elephants and voting itself handsome raises.

    The anti-development attitude of this and previous councils has done nothing to attract the types of businesses and projects that contribute to the tax base of a well run city.

    I cannot afford to live here any longer, paying top dollar for lackluster services and poor financial management of the peoples taxes.

  • Disappointed
    July 02, 2010 - 13:31

    As a finance professional, I am convinced that this is a tax grab. I am disgusted with the high salaries paid at City Council for the low number of hours worked for administrative staff. This comprises a hugh portion of the overall budget, and should be rationalized in these times. The city council should strive to ensure revenues raised through taxation are used to meet only essential services, with rationalization of the budget each year. An increase of $17 million over last years budgeted expenses is obscene! The small turn out at the budget hearings is not indicative of lack of interest or deep concern. I am greatly concerned about this and it will only worsen as property tax assessments increase.

  • Bob
    July 02, 2010 - 13:30

    I'm sure the residents of Mt. Pearl and Paradise would line up to pay higher taxes and receive inferior services.

    Until the 'city' of St. John's gets it house in order I can't see amalgamation going ahead.

    Furthermore...why call it amalgamation....call it what it is...Annexation.

  • Sara
    July 02, 2010 - 13:30

    Hah! All you who voted the same ole in now realise the cry for change!!!!! We really need to budget for ARTS and Cruises.....How much does Doc and Shannie get in kickbacks????????
    People come first, get a real pair of glasses that work!!!! You have children walking in the streets because you have no sidewalks, you have people in wheel chairs in the roads cause of poor plow condistions....Hang your head in shame, I know I do for YOU!!!!

  • The
    July 02, 2010 - 13:21

    There should be demonstrations in the streets!!! After all the talk that went on and the impressions given to voters by the candidates that the mill rate would be considerably lower to alleviate taxes, it's time to show our disapproval.

    Disappointed from NL writes:
    YOU ARE SPOT ON

  • arnold
    July 02, 2010 - 13:14

    Rename St. John's 'Gateway to the Pearl', amalgamate with Mount Pearl and get top quality services like those people in Mount Pearl do is the best thing that could ever happen to St. John's. The bonus would be gutting out St. John's city hall.

  • Taxpayer ll
    July 02, 2010 - 13:13

    So, in order for this to be revenue neutral we would have needed a mill reduction of 3 mills, they reduced it by 1 mill. This is the Doc O'keefe method of taxation, they just raised our taxes by 2 mills, and topped it off with a 50 dollar hike in water tax.
    This is decietful, disgaceful, and I hope the people of this town don't just roll over and take this. These liars, especially O'Keefe, and Duff said this wouldn't happen when they were campainging, but as soon as they got in, it was adifferent tune. There were lots of ers, and ahs, and buts.
    Why such an increase over last year? Why do they need the money? Inflation has been flat. Interest rates ae at 0%. Have things increased so dramatically that we need a 2 mill increase in our taxes? People should be outraged! I know I am.

  • Taxpayer ll
    July 02, 2010 - 13:10

    46 comments about snow on the sidewalks, 10 comments about a huge tax gouge on the part of city hall, I guess that's how they get away with it...total apathy.

  • Disappointed
    July 02, 2010 - 13:09

    I agree with Derrick. These increases are just beginning. I also agree with amalgamation, especially with Mount Pearl, but NOT with Randy Simms anywhere near the Council. It's time for balanced decision making, not ranting and roaring.

  • Derrick
    July 01, 2010 - 20:24

    Just wait until the under-funded pensions of the employees kick in.
    About 2012 it should start and then
    watch out.

  • Bob
    July 01, 2010 - 20:20

    Just wait....this will all be Randy Simms fault....because when things are going south, nothing distracts from the real issues (like pay raises at City Hall) and gets the corner boys riled up like talk of the 'Brown Baggers' beating up on the Townies roads. Amalgamate the works I say....all the way to Roaches Line.

  • FOR SALE
    July 01, 2010 - 20:20

    That's it, I am now beginning the process of putting my house on the market in hopes of selling and moving out of this city.

    The council has no problem with travel junkets, arts funding, subsidizing white elephants and voting itself handsome raises.

    The anti-development attitude of this and previous councils has done nothing to attract the types of businesses and projects that contribute to the tax base of a well run city.

    I cannot afford to live here any longer, paying top dollar for lackluster services and poor financial management of the peoples taxes.

  • Disappointed
    July 01, 2010 - 20:19

    As a finance professional, I am convinced that this is a tax grab. I am disgusted with the high salaries paid at City Council for the low number of hours worked for administrative staff. This comprises a hugh portion of the overall budget, and should be rationalized in these times. The city council should strive to ensure revenues raised through taxation are used to meet only essential services, with rationalization of the budget each year. An increase of $17 million over last years budgeted expenses is obscene! The small turn out at the budget hearings is not indicative of lack of interest or deep concern. I am greatly concerned about this and it will only worsen as property tax assessments increase.

  • Bob
    July 01, 2010 - 20:19

    I'm sure the residents of Mt. Pearl and Paradise would line up to pay higher taxes and receive inferior services.

    Until the 'city' of St. John's gets it house in order I can't see amalgamation going ahead.

    Furthermore...why call it amalgamation....call it what it is...Annexation.

  • Sara
    July 01, 2010 - 20:17

    Hah! All you who voted the same ole in now realise the cry for change!!!!! We really need to budget for ARTS and Cruises.....How much does Doc and Shannie get in kickbacks????????
    People come first, get a real pair of glasses that work!!!! You have children walking in the streets because you have no sidewalks, you have people in wheel chairs in the roads cause of poor plow condistions....Hang your head in shame, I know I do for YOU!!!!

  • The
    July 01, 2010 - 20:05

    There should be demonstrations in the streets!!! After all the talk that went on and the impressions given to voters by the candidates that the mill rate would be considerably lower to alleviate taxes, it's time to show our disapproval.

    Disappointed from NL writes:
    YOU ARE SPOT ON

  • arnold
    July 01, 2010 - 19:53

    Rename St. John's 'Gateway to the Pearl', amalgamate with Mount Pearl and get top quality services like those people in Mount Pearl do is the best thing that could ever happen to St. John's. The bonus would be gutting out St. John's city hall.

  • Taxpayer ll
    July 01, 2010 - 19:50

    So, in order for this to be revenue neutral we would have needed a mill reduction of 3 mills, they reduced it by 1 mill. This is the Doc O'keefe method of taxation, they just raised our taxes by 2 mills, and topped it off with a 50 dollar hike in water tax.
    This is decietful, disgaceful, and I hope the people of this town don't just roll over and take this. These liars, especially O'Keefe, and Duff said this wouldn't happen when they were campainging, but as soon as they got in, it was adifferent tune. There were lots of ers, and ahs, and buts.
    Why such an increase over last year? Why do they need the money? Inflation has been flat. Interest rates ae at 0%. Have things increased so dramatically that we need a 2 mill increase in our taxes? People should be outraged! I know I am.

  • Taxpayer ll
    July 01, 2010 - 19:46

    46 comments about snow on the sidewalks, 10 comments about a huge tax gouge on the part of city hall, I guess that's how they get away with it...total apathy.

  • Disappointed
    July 01, 2010 - 19:45

    I agree with Derrick. These increases are just beginning. I also agree with amalgamation, especially with Mount Pearl, but NOT with Randy Simms anywhere near the Council. It's time for balanced decision making, not ranting and roaring.