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Letter: Tax system doesn’t treat all residents fairly

Letter to the Editor
Letter to the Editor

I have to write about an unfair tax system being imposed by the Town of Small Point-Broad Cove-Blackhead-Adam’s Cove.

The minutes of the Nov. 9, 2017 meeting have now been posted which state: “Property Tax — to stay the same as we originally proposed. Minimum rate of $550 at property assessed at $157,000 or less, (mill) rate of 3.5% for everything above.”

This is a town which is in a unique situation in that 65 per cent of the community is made up of summer residents, as confirmed by the mayor — mostly family homes used less than two months of the year and valued at less than $75,000. The town is basically assessing all properties to be $157,000 or more to say the mill rate is only 3.5 per cent. The town spent the funds to have the properties assessed, but because it seems because it didn’t fit their numbers, they are not using the assessed values. They could have revised the mill rate.

So, if you have a cabin valued at $75,000 your effective mill rate is 7.3 per cent. If your place is valued at only $40,000, your effective mill rate is 13.7 per cent. Plus, you have to pay extra for water ($365) and garbage collection ($180), for a total of $1,095.

This is a town which is in a unique situation in that 65 per cent of the community is made up of summer residents, as confirmed by the mayor — mostly family homes used less than two months of the year and valued at less than $75,000.

Currently, a poll tax system is in place, being $340. But if there are two or more full-time residents who are employed in one household, and their income is above the minimum tax exemption rate, each pays $340. But, if their house is worth less than $157,000, they’ll pay $550, for a reduction in their taxes of $130. Summer residents pay for one poll tax, water and garbage and will see an increase in their taxes by $210.

In reviewing their financial statements for the past six years, it is easy to see that the town is spending happy when it comes to accumulating assets for a community of fewer than 400 people per the 2016 census.

Needless to say, most of the community property owners are not in agreement, but being only summer residents with no vote, who do we turn to in order to be heard? How is the community able to be legally constituted when the majority of taxpayers are not represented?

And, worthy of note: the council members at the time it was proposed will see a reduction in their tax bills, except for one councillor, who will see an increase of $2.95.

 

Eleanor Wentzell
St. John’s

 

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