St. John’s residents are being warned in a mass city hall mail out they are in for mill rate increases of between .4 to .6 for residential properties and 1.0 to 1.9 for commercial properties, as well as a $30 increase in the water tax.
The mail out is gauging public opinion on the upcoming three-year budget plan and the
challenges the city says it is facing as it prepares for the next fiscal year, the efforts underway to reduce costs and the ways residents can engage with the city before the final budget is approved in December.
“This is the first time in the city’s history that we have shared our projections this early with the public,” Mayor Danny Breen said in a news release. “We have heard from our residents that they want to be engaged early and often in budget discussions, so we are providing that opportunity.”
The upcoming 2019 is also an assessment year, and residents will receive a new assessment in early December based on property values as of Jan. 1, 2017. Current property taxes are based on assessed values as of Jan. 1, 2014.
“Although each property must be looked at individually, the city is projecting an overall decline in property values, creating a revenue deficit that could be addressed by either reducing services or increasing mill rates,” explained Coun. Dave Lane, lead on finance and administration.
“Based on public engagement to date, including our city-wide citizen satisfaction survey, Council does not feel the public want a service reduction. To maintain our current service levels while avoiding a deficit situation, we are projecting a marginal mill rate increase. It is with this in mind that we are entering our budget engagement process.”
The full plan is outlined in a publication being mailed directly to residents. An electronic version of the publication and other information, as well as details on how the public can engage with city council on the budget, are available at engagestjohns.ca. Please see the attached backgrounder for public engagement details.
Public sessions are scheduled from 7 to 9 p.m. on the following dates:
Wednesday, Oct. 10 - Southlands Community Centre, 40 Teakwood Dr.
Thursday, Oct. 11 - St. John's Community Market, 245 Freshwater Rd.
Wednesday, Oct. 17 - Waterford Valley High, 465 Topsail Road
Thursday Oct. 18 - Paul Reynolds Community Centre, 34 Carrick Dr.
Tuesday, Oct. 30 - City Hall, Foran/Greene Room, 10 New Gower Str.
The city is also osting Facebook live discussions on Tuesday, Oct. 2 and Thursday, Oct. 25 (exact times to be announced).