CORNER BROOK — The mayor of Corner Brook has asked the provincial government to stop funding services for local service districts and unincorporated communities.
During a pre-budget consultation in Corner Brook Monday, Neville Greeley said it is time the province “level the playing field” for taxpaying residents and municipalities. He also encouraged the provincial government to look at a cost-sharing type of set up to assist communities which provide regional services.
“Here on the west coast, we have a community literally 10 minutes outside Corner Brook where you have some properties valued at about a million dollars and they are not paying five cents in property tax and there is a business in the community that is not paying five cents in property tax or business tax,” he said to Finance Minister Jerome Kennedy.
“That’s all because they are set up in a local service district.”
The mayor said it is one thing to support neighbouring municipalities where people are paying taxes, but he takes particular exception to providing infrastructure and services to people living in local service districts and unincorporated areas. He said it is unfair to taxpaying residents of the province.
“That’s something we strongly encourage of your government — to level that playing field such that the provincial government is not paying to provide or maintain any other service to a local service district or an unincorporated area,” he said.
The mayor cited the example of provincial funding that is paid to the Town of Steady Brook for snowclearing operations to the local service district of Little Rapids.
When questioned by Kennedy as to what he meant by levelling the playing field, Greeley said they should be forced to get organized.
“What incentive is there for the people in Little Rapids, the people in Boom Siding, to get themselves organized if the provincial government is going to continue to plow their roads and pave their roads?” he said.
He also referred to the ongoing feud between the Town of Deer Lake and the unincorporated community of St. Judes over uncollected fees for garbage collection and firefighting services.
Greeley encouraged the provincial government to start exploring regional government type concepts for the sharing of services.
“Like here in the City of Corner Brook, all the operating costs for the Pepsi Centre, for all the sporting fields — baseball, softball, soccer — for all the entire region is borne by the taxpayers of Corner Brook,” he said. “And the taxpayers of Mount Moriah, Massey Drive, Hughes Brook, Steady Brook, anybody else from any other community that is using those fields, not five cents of their property tax goes toward covering any of those facilities.”