Don’t raise taxes, cut costs

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St. John’s Mayor Dennis O’Keefe doesn’t get it. He just doesn’t get it! After recently listening to him in a TV interview on increased taxes, I’m convinced his head is stuck deep in the sand.

He’s not able to hear what taxpayers — both residents and businesses — are saying. When the local economy is in a state of decline and will be for the next few years, it is not the time to substantially increase the tax burden. Maybe a small increase is necessary, but not the sizable one the city announced.

We all know revenue is well down (a sign of the poor economy). The answer is not to increase taxes to cover the shortfall. The answer is to decrease expenditures by an equivalent amount of the revenue shortfall. That may mean councillors may have to make some tough decisions. But that’s what they are there for — they’re not just seat warmers. If projects, programs, etc. have to take a hit for a few years, so be it.

The recent assessments are based on the more robust real estate market of Jan 1, 2014 — two years ago. The reality is that the January 2016 real estate market is not so robust, making the recent assessments inflated compared to the value today. Such a substantial increase in taxes in one year is not justified. Council has to deal with today’s reality.


R.K. Whiteway

St. John’s

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Recent comments

  • Craig
    January 28, 2016 - 06:43

    Maybe it's time to get away from this archaic tax system and go with something that actually makes sense.. How about we pay for services received and not some guess about what my house could be worth.

  • Mark Ham
    January 27, 2016 - 17:56

    The city's budget determines how much tax is to be collected from the taxpayers, not the assessments. The mill rate is determined by dividing the total tax to be collected by the total of the assessment values in the jurisdiction. The assessments only determine each person's share of the tax burden. If all properties in the jurisdiction increased or decreased by exactly the same amount over the same time (which they don't, but just for this point) then the age of the assessments would be irrelevant.

    January 27, 2016 - 09:36

    As Jeanette said below, in a few years I will be retiring also and I too will not be able to afford the municipal taxes on my house , I too will have to sell. How many more like us will have to sell our homes, and O'Keefe wants to buy land in Galway before the price goes up. I say Galway will never go as there will so many of us baby boomers trying to dump our houses and move to apartments. O'Keefe and his crowd are making St. John's too expensive to live in.

    • Ted
      January 27, 2016 - 13:09

      Someone joked the other day saying Williams knows something we don't - Due to the state of the government forced resettlement will occur and Galway is set up to become a bayman refugee camp. Take your 250k resettlement money and buy your home in Galway. Imagine.

    • Stephen  Redgrave
      Stephen Redgrave
      January 27, 2016 - 14:03

      Nothing elaborate---I agree with Jerome., and Jeanette. Just because Vancouver can get away with it--it can't wash in St John's.

  • Jeanette
    January 27, 2016 - 05:31

    I am a senior widow, whose assessment doubled, will have to sell my home because I cannot afford to pay my city taxes. Residents and businesses are in "no man's land" by the current council's assessment.

    • Tim
      January 27, 2016 - 13:06

      Me too Jeanette. I have been a good citizen of St. John's for the past 50 years - always paid my taxes on time and in full. Retired now, on a fixed pension. We will have to sell our home as well and rent in an inflated market.. And that to us is simply terrifying. We are being taxed out of everything we know and it seems no one cares. It has come to the point where we toss all the monthly bills in a hat and blindly draw out one bill - that's the one that does not get paid that month. We are ashamed of this. We were always on time.

  • ms reality
    January 26, 2016 - 09:48

    Fair comments made here but I think you are forgetting about the prov gov; arent they somewhat to blame here. The municipal gov have guide lines to follow as outlined and perscribed by municipalities NL. The fact that assessments are actually 2 years old is indeed a problem and one that needs to be revisited by all levels of gov. It bothers me that people are quick to jump and blame Councillors!! Really? I am sure they dislike paying more property taxes just as you and me.

    • Ken Collis
      January 26, 2016 - 12:06

      The province supplies the assessments. The council sets the nil rate. It is really up to council to adjust the mil rate to a reasonable level.

    • Brian
      January 27, 2016 - 10:45

      Ken Collis - the province, through the MAA provides assessments around the province - EXCEPT in St. John's. The city does its own assessments.

  • John
    January 26, 2016 - 09:23

    I agree 100% with this assesment, raising taxes right now is not the solution..... this council is obviously not experienced in these issues...... cut costs!

  • Enjoying my tax break
    January 26, 2016 - 07:40

    So tough decisions have to be made... just so long as they don't cost you anything....

  • Ken Collis
    January 26, 2016 - 04:49

    What you say makes sense but it's not what "staff recommended". That's what council members are supposed to do, right. Accept "staff recommendations".