Budget won't see increase in mill rate: Bruce

Diane Crocker
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CORNER BROOK  Residents of Corner Brook won’t see an increase in the mill rate the city uses to set property taxes when the budget comes down later this month.

Coun. Leo Bruce is seen in this Monday, Nov. 19, 2012 file photo.

Coun. Leo Bruce, co-chair of the city’s finance committee, said Monday that other than a bit of fine tuning by staff, the 2013 budget is ready and will be brought down during the regular council meeting on Dec. 17.

Bruce said doing a budget in an assessment year is always tough and this year it was made all the more challenging with the average residential property assessment going up by 24 per cent and the average business assessment rising by 15 per cent.

He said the city couldn’t stay status quo on the current 9.25 residential mill rate and had to make an adjustment to it.

While he wouldn’t say exactly how much the mill rate will change, Bruce said “it certainly won’t be up.”

He said there’s a fine line or a balancing act that comes into play when doing a budget. “And I think we achieved that. Because we’ve got to be fiscally responsible and try and bring a budget in that suits most of our residents, or all of our residents, and also we try and maintain the services that we presently offer.”

As for what else the budget will contain, Bruce said residents can expect the city to stay the course and maintain upgrades to infrastructure and paving.

Bruce said the city has made some “major ground” on paving over the last few years.

With between $2.5 and $3 million a year spent on paving in the last few years the city has been able to do some new roads, cap some old roads, fix problem areas and prevent some major problems.  

Preparing the budget was a little different for the finance committee this year with the addition of a public consultation.

Bruce said the committee heard from about six presenters at a public session and also accepted written submissions.

Outside of that the committee met for a couple of meetings before conducting a two-day budget preparation session on Nov. 22 and 23. The committee then made a presentation to council on Nov. 24 and 25.

“Council agreed on what we had to do and where we had to go and now the document is being written,” said Bruce.

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Recent comments

  • Jack
    December 05, 2012 - 12:06

    I was reading Homeowner Mike's comment about the Poll Tax, and I have to agree that this tax punishes single parents, students, and even those with disabilities living with relatives whom are employed but earn close to minimum wage. Even nearby towns like Gillams impose a $240.00 per year poll tax on employed individuals and families living with relatives regardless of income level. Those earning close to minimum wage are not immune fro this tax. In fact, even though I'm disabled and work full time, I have to live with parents as I don't make enough money to get my own apartment as I make just a few dollars per hour over minimum wage. Despite earning low wages and having a disability, Gillams charges people like myself with a Poll Tax up to a whopping $240.00 per year, which is over 1% of my net pay. Since imposing Poll Taxes on working disabled persons and single parents, whom typically earn close to minimum wage, is a tax on the poor, towns and cities like Corner Brook and Gillams have to stop charging it. As a result of most minimum wage individuals having to live with relatives to make ends meet are dinged with Poll Taxes, the Newfoundland and Labrador Government should implement a law banning municipalities from imposing Poll Taxes on disabled persons including those living with relatives regardless of income level, single parents, and low income families. Something to think about. In other provinces like Nova Scotia, municipalities are not allowed to impose a Poll Tax, and now is the time for Newfoundland and Labrador to impose a similar ban and increase funding to municipalities to compensate for the Poll Tax revenue losses.

  • Homeowner Mike
    December 05, 2012 - 11:07

    Homeowner Henry, I respect your opinion, and so does the City Council. In fact, they rely on the premise that the majority of voters (those that actually casta ballot and not those that have the right to vote) are homeowners and that the majority of those targetted by the poll tax do not cast a vote. Based on this premise, they rely on the majority of homeowners feeling the same way that you do, and in this context, there is a silent sanctioning by the voters for this immoral taxing practice. As pointed out by another contributor, the poll tax is actually a tax on a tax. Landlords are taxed based on the value of their property, and residential rental properties are assessed at higher levels, so the landlords are taxed on this increased value and that tax is passed on to the tennants through their rent. So, Henry, the 2000 less fortunate residents that are targeted by the poll tax, are in fact contributing to the public coffers, indirectly. So, Henry, your argument lacks much merit. It is ironic that the poll tax was originally introduced as a fee for the privilege of voting. I suggest that these 2000 voters organize and exercise their voting rights at the next election to oust any memberr of the city council that does not publicly call for repeal of the bylaw that authorizes the collection of a poll tax in our city. 2000 voters voting in a block would dictate the selection of mayor and the composition of council. Something for Neville, Donna, Leo and the others to mull over.

  • Fed up with tax
    December 04, 2012 - 20:37

    My best advice to you Leo and the rest of council is to cut the mill rate at at least 2 mills and makeup for the reduction we did not get. 3 years ago as I recall. My tax went up last time we reduced the mill rate. Stop playing games with the mill rate. Municipal tax is actually increasing when you reduce the mil rate. Give us a break. Oh by the way when is the city going to reduce the senior discount from 65 to at least 60. Seniors retire these days at 60 at half income or lower. The seniors deserve better then this after supporting this town with tax over their working life. If the reduction in the. Mill rate I proposed is not achievable then I guess I will see you Leo and council. In the upcoming election.

  • Jack
    December 04, 2012 - 20:24

    With Humber Community YMCA recent excluded in the recent infrastructure spending announcements in favour of elitist organizations like Saltos Gymnastics Club, I hope that Corner Brook City Council are paying attention this time, and make a commitment for a permanent YMCA facility in the upcoming budget. In addition, with Corner Brook getting the 2016 Special Olympics Canada Winter Games, I hope the council will also provide money to Special Olympics Newfoundland and Labrador to cover the costs of hosting this event. Keep in mind that under Special Olympics Canada regulations, the host city's provincial chapter has to cover 70% of the hosting costs.

  • Home owner Henry
    December 04, 2012 - 20:06

    My response to home owner Mike, you are nuts. I own property and pay plenty to this city for its upkeep. I suggest not only do we keep the poll tax we should increase it. I do not want to pay more because some one does not want a mortgage. They enjoy the same services as every one else . I will trade my property tax for poll tax ant time. No freebees in this town at the expense of others. Who do you think will pay if they get free services? Boo hoo.

  • Home owner Henry
    December 04, 2012 - 20:02

    My response to home owner Mike, you are nuts. I own property and pay plenty to this city for its upkeep. I suggest not only do we keep the poll tax we should increase it. I do not want to pay more because some one does not want a mortgage. They enjoy the same services as every one else . I will trade my property tax for poll tax ant time. No freebees in this town at the expense of others. Who do you think will pay if they get free services? Boo hoo.

    • Shawn
      December 05, 2012 - 10:33

      Those people are charged rent based on the landlords property taxes and the extra tax they pay for having an apt, along with other expenses obviously. Why should anyone be charged by the city as well? That poll tax was wrong right from the get go. If the renters must pay this poll tax, then landlords should not be taxed more for having the apt rented. there is a double tax situation going on here.

  • fatcat
    December 04, 2012 - 17:55

    wow,congrats!! whata announcement. sarcastic!!! too late for positive news with ALL the negative news this council has been apart of! new election Sept. 2013 you are all gone outta office then

  • Homeowner too
    December 04, 2012 - 16:50

    Gander did away with their poll tax years ago because it was said that they were double dipping on the taxes, collecting property tax from the homeowner at a higher rate because he/she had an apartment in their home, then collecting poll tax from the tenant for the same property...

  • Homeowner Mike
    December 04, 2012 - 14:13

    I hope that Coun. Bruce and his colleagues will take this opportunity to do away with the poll tax that they charge to those people that choose to work but do not own their own home. Our city council taxes approximately 2000 residents, a group that encompasses students and single parents, $175 every year on the basis that (a) they choose to be employed and (b) they rent. It is morally reprehensible that in our culture we target a small group of less fortunate individuals. Especially when you consider that rental properties are taxed by the municipality, andthat tax is passed on to the tennants in the rent. If any of our elected council believe that they can justify this tax, then I cahllenge them to do so publicly, instead of quietly relying on this tax on poverty to supplement the city's coffers so that they don't have to add an extra $45-50 (pure guess) to the property taxes of those fortunate enough to be in a position to own our own house . I'll pay the extra.