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.