An­other year, an­other tax in­crease

Gander and Area Cham­ber of Com­merce ex­presses con­cern about raise in mill rate

The Central Voice - - Editorial - BY ADAM RAN­DELL Adam.ran­[email protected]­cen­tralvoice.ca

Rod French feels he’s be­gin­ning to sound like a bro­ken record.

The Gander and Area Cham­ber of Com­merce chair is again voic­ing his con­cerns about tax in­creases in the cen­tral town.

Eight out of the last nine years there have been tax in­creases in Gander, states French. Two of the in­creases have been ap­proved by the cur­rent coun­cil.

To cover it’s nearly $18-mil­lion bud­get for the up­com­ing year, the Town of Gander raised res­i­den­tial mill rates from 6.77 to 6.95 mills, with wa­ter and sewer fees be­ing in­creased by $20 to $430.

Com­mer­cial mill rates have been in­creased from 6.46 mills to 6.80 mills. The same as last year, the com­mer­cial wa­ter tax will be based on the es­tab­lished mill rate.

French calls it a dou­ble tax, as 2018 was an as­sess­ment year and a num­ber of res­i­den­tial and busi­ness prop­er­ties ex­pe­ri­enced in­creases.

Cou­pled with a down­turn in the econ­omy, he said, ad­di­tional taxes make it harder for res­i­dents and busi­nesses to bring about sta­bil­ity.

And it has even re­sulted in clo­sures.

“You do see a few va­cancy signs, and it is a sign of the times, there are a num­ber of busi­nesses say­ing they’ve had a chal­leng­ing year,” he said. “2018 has not been a good year for the busi­ness com­mu­nity in Gander and in the prov­ince.”

French said New­found­land and Labrador is oil de­pen­dent, mega projects such as Muskrat Falls are wind­ing down, and there aren’t as many peo­ple work­ing in Al­berta as there once was.

“A lot of that trick­les down to the pro­vin­cial and lo­cal econ­omy,” he said. “If peo­ple don’t have money to spend they aren’t go­ing to be buy­ing as many cars and trucks, build­ing homes or do much in ren­o­va­tions.”

Now, on top of that, he said, busi­nesses have to find a way to com­pen­sate for the ad­di­tional ex­pense.

French isn’t op­posed to tax­a­tion, and he sees it as an im­por­tant com­po­nent in main­tain­ing and en­hanc­ing com­mu­nity ser­vices.

But he does take is­sue with how it’s used.

“You can only go back to the well so many times,” he said about the town con­stantly ask­ing more of its tax­pay­ers.

“It’s like there’s no ef­fort to put some con­trol on ex­penses… it has to be used in a wise and ef­fec­tive man­ner.”

French sug­gests the town look in­ter­nally to save money, as 49.3 per cent of the town’s bud­get is ded­i­cated to pay­roll and re­lated ben­e­fits.

“We think that they need to look at their op­er­a­tions and be­come a bit more ef­fi­cient,” he said.

“Be­cause if we were do­ing that in the busi­ness com­mu­nity, just rais­ing prices and not ex­am­in­ing our op­er­a­tions and pass­ing that along to the con­sumer, we wouldn’t be in busi­ness very long.”

The Town of Gander did not re­spond to The Cen­tral Voice’s re­quest for com­ment.

FILE PHOTO

Rod French, chair of the Gander and Area Cham­ber of Com­merce, is again call­ing out the Town of Gander for rais­ing taxes.

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