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Businessman, councillor square off over downtown in Facebook debate

Blue on Water owner Jason Brake (left), Telegram reporters Barb Sweet and Daniel MacEachern and St. John's Coun. Jonathan Galgay took part in a live debate Tuesday morning.
Blue on Water owner Jason Brake (left), Telegram reporters Barb Sweet and Daniel MacEachern and St. John's Coun. Jonathan Galgay took part in a live debate Tuesday morning.

St. John's city council's finance chairman faced off with a local businessman Tuesday morning over the state of the city's downtown.

Coun. Jonathan Galgay and Blue on Water owner Jason Brake debated taxes, the Big Dig and council travel during the debate, which was streamed live on Facebook and thetelegram.com and released as an audio podcast. (Click here for the full audio playback.)

"Council has spearheaded projects with little to no understanding of the financial consequences to the city," Brake said during his opening remarks. “Their want to build and have more has overshadowed maintenance costs, fiscal planning, rational importance, and the state of the city as a whole."

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After Brake accused the city of "fiasco after fiasco," Galgay said last year's budget — which cut services and raised taxes — was a "staff budget."

 "That budget was crafted solely by staff. Members of council had little influence over the budget," he said. "I made it explicitly clear following the budget into January and February that things were going to change."

Galgay said the city has learned from the outcry from residents and business owners, and pointed to the program review the city is undergoing to bring spending down.

Asked if people in St. John's should expect taxes to go down next year, Galgay said yes.

"That's something that council has committed to doing, and I'm fairly confident at this particular point in time," he said. "I just had a briefing a few days ago that we're right on target."

Brake called that a "move in the right direction."

Click here for more Telegram podcasts

Coun. Jonathan Galgay and Blue on Water owner Jason Brake debated taxes, the Big Dig and council travel during the debate, which was streamed live on Facebook and thetelegram.com and released as an audio podcast. (Click here for the full audio playback.)

"Council has spearheaded projects with little to no understanding of the financial consequences to the city," Brake said during his opening remarks. “Their want to build and have more has overshadowed maintenance costs, fiscal planning, rational importance, and the state of the city as a whole."

Related stories:

Varied comments from Facebook debate

Downtown businesses want break from Big Dig during busy seasons

St. John’s businesses call for tax relief

After Brake accused the city of "fiasco after fiasco," Galgay said last year's budget — which cut services and raised taxes — was a "staff budget."

 "That budget was crafted solely by staff. Members of council had little influence over the budget," he said. "I made it explicitly clear following the budget into January and February that things were going to change."

Galgay said the city has learned from the outcry from residents and business owners, and pointed to the program review the city is undergoing to bring spending down.

Asked if people in St. John's should expect taxes to go down next year, Galgay said yes.

"That's something that council has committed to doing, and I'm fairly confident at this particular point in time," he said. "I just had a briefing a few days ago that we're right on target."

Brake called that a "move in the right direction."

Click here for more Telegram podcasts

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