My first reaction to my 2013 tax bill from the city (first half) was shock, and then despair. Then I got a little upset, then I settled down, and now I write to The Telegram.
It is nothing, absolutely nothing but a tax grab accompanied by a greed that is simply palpable in its sheer meanness and audacity.
Those in the know at city hall tell me it’s because there hasn’t been a tax increase in years. That’s not quite true but, true or not, it lays the blame on those who occupied the offices before them and that is only politics as usual.
The fact is my own bill increased by about 21 per cent.
Recently, Coun. Danny Breen was in the media talking of increases from 13 per cent to 15 per cent, which of course might be the average but is just a way politicians have of telling a little less than the whole story.
Dismayed by reasons
What I found dismaying was his rationale for the large increases.
He explained that if you lived in the east end of the city, where all the pressure has been built up by commercial and real estate activity, you were more liable to have a larger increase.
Isn’t that discrimination? I live in the east end, I have a property exactly the same as yours in the west end, but because you live in the west end, you will have less of an increase.
But I want to come back to my real beef with this greed. I understand we live in a real estate bubble that may or may not be accompanied by a great deal of speculation.
St. John’s has known a couple of bubbles in its time: the one in the harbour used to smell to high heaven, but let me tell you that from where I sit, the present real estate bubble does not smell one bit better simply because the city is using the bubble figures as its excuse for the tax grab.
So, we live in a bubble. What do the mayor and council expect us to do: sell our bubbly houses to pay our bubbly taxes?
And look at the environment they are making this grab in.
Blood from a turnip
How many of the taxpayers in this city have not had an increase in income in years; not one per cent, not five per cent, but nothing — and the city wants increases as high as 25 per cent?
The grab is both greedy and mendacious, simply because in none of their election platforms was there ever any indication they would do this.
And no, I don’t care that Andy Wells and company did not raise our taxes; that’s history.
It is not my problem and the present council should not foist that on us now. If you must increase our taxes do it gradually.
Have you ever heard of gradualism? For goodness sake, have some respect for the citizens of this city.
And yes, I’ve been told about your weasel legislation that allows property tax appeals.
How does that help the majority of citizens of this town that you are gouging?
By introducing the grab early in 2013, you are perhaps hoping all will be forgotten and lovey-dovey come September.
Wayne Norman writes from St. John’s.