Loss of Crown corporation grant befuddles councillor

Cory Hurley cory.hurley@tc.tc
Published on April 2, 2013

CORNER BROOK  The Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation will not be paying the City of Corner Brook grants in lieu of taxes anymore.

The city received a letter from Sharon Sparkes, the corporation’s senior vice-president and chief financial officer, dated March 22. It came with the payment of the 2012 grant in lieu of all municipal taxes in the amount of $19,247.

The Crown corporation is exempt from all municipal business and property taxes, but has historically paid this grant. It is calculated on sales in a municipality, multiplied by a board-approved mill rate.

At Monday evening’s public meeting of council, Coun. Leo Bruce said he has always been bewildered by the amount of the grant the corporation paid. Now, it will be receiving nothing at all from the corporation, which operates two stores in the city.

“I don’t think it is right,” said Bruce. “The scary thing about this is, this is one government Crown corporation or agency. What’s next?”

The letter from the corporation was brief and to the point. There was no explanation provided, other than it was within the corporation’s right to stop paying the grant.

The city must find out from the corporation the reason why this grant is not continuing, Bruce said, and also must discuss the issue with area MHAs.

He said it is another hit to the municipality, referring to recent cutbacks announced in the provincial budget. The city has lost $660,000 in its municipal operating grant, he said.

“This is another $20,000 from a Crown corporation,” he said. “Where does it stop?”

The Crown corporation earned a profit of $136 million in 2012, according to its records.

Meanwhile, members of council raised a number of concerns with the fallout since the provincial budget was announced.

Bruce said there is word that as many as 150 to 200 jobs are being lost out of the local economy as a result of provincial cutbacks. He said the provincial government is one of the area’s biggest employers, and compared the job losses to the closure of Corner Brook Pulp and Paper.

Coun. Priscilla Boutcher said she is worried about the ramifications of cutbacks to the College of the North Atlantic. She said less jobs means less opportunity for the youth of the area to find employment.

Coun. Donna Francis said there now needs to be a focus on economic and business development.

churley@thewesternstar.com

Twitter: WS_CoryHurley