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City of Corner Brook begins process of phasing out poll tax as part of 2018 budget

Coun. Josh Carey delivers Corner Brook’s 2018 budget during Monday night’s council meeting at city hall.
Coun. Josh Carey delivers Corner Brook’s 2018 budget during Monday night’s council meeting at city hall. - Chris Quigley

The City of Corner Brook will begin the process of phasing out the controversial poll tax, it was announced as the 2018 Corner Brook municipal budget was presented and approved unanimously by council at Monday night’s public meeting at city hall.

The tax is an annual fee of $200 on all people 18 years or older who live in the city but don’t own property, that came with a few exceptions, such as those who earned less than $11,474 the previous year.

Though the tax wasn’t eliminated or reduced in this budget, the “phasing out” process will begin with the raising of the exemption limit to $22,500, almost double the former amount.

In his budget speech, delivered on behalf of council, Coun. Josh Carey referred to the poll tax as a “regressive tax” that has already been eliminated in most jurisdictions and noted it was particularly harsh on young and low-income workers.

“That said, this tax contributes a great deal of revenue to our bottom line and it would be irresponsible to eliminate it in one fell swoop,” he said.

He said raising the exemption limit will reduce the poll tax roll by at least 20-25 per cent. Council will also continue the program of a 15 per cent discount for seniors who are eligible and qualify and continue the payment plan initiative for qualifying seniors.

In addition to the poll tax news, Carey also announced there will be no changes to the 2018 property or business tax rates or associated fees.

All in all, the budget came in balanced with operating revenues and expenditures totaling $35,059,600. That’s an increase of $412,300 (1.19 per cent) over the 2017 budget.

Key themes in the 2018 Corner Brook municipal budget:

No increase in the mil rate – no increased fees

Increased transparency and better communication with citizens

Taking the lead in economic development and tourism

Responsible fiscal and asset management

Investing in infrastructure and recreation, including committing capital funding toward the construction of a splash pad

Phasing out of poll tax

The complete 2018 budget is available for viewing at: http://bit.ly/2BxXLfy

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