Over the last few weeks there has been extensive discussion about the St. John’s city budget. Surprisingly, there has been little if any discussion about taxation for St. John’s taxpayers relative to surrounding towns and municipalities.
The fact is, that in these difficult economic times, and in light of the challenges faced by all levels of government, it’s an issue that I believe warrants further discussion.
In its recent budget, Mount Pearl budgeted a residential a mill rate of 7 compared to the St. John’s rate of 7.8. In practical terms, that represents around $250 less in taxes on a home valued at $300,000. It seems to me that the reasons for the lower mill rate, at least in some respects, are somewhat obvious. The taxpayer in St. John’s is supporting considerably more infrastructure than residents of the surrounding communities.
Consider for a moment the road maintenance, the snowclearing, Mile One, the soon to be re-opened Convention Centre, Bowring Park and other parks around the city, and the list goes on. All of these facilities are supported exclusively by the St. John’s taxpayer. This would be of no relevance to communities outside St. John’s were it not for the fact that all of us in the metropolitan area can avail of the first-class hockey and entertainment available because of Mile One. We can all enjoy the wonderful recreation option the skating Loop in Bannerman Park provides, and the roads and the other infrastructure that helps to keep our collective economy going.
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Look at the gridlock we would have were it not for Team Gushue Boulevard, yet the city carries all the cost — that’s just one example. Needless to say, these costs put our city council in a difficult position.
All that being said, and if for no other reason, there is a case here of fundamental fairness to capital city taxpayers that needs to be addressed. Perhaps the new provincial government can address this issue when it develops its next budget.
No one wants to pay extra taxes, but perhaps the city can be compensated in some way for the significant common services it provides.