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Port aux Basques adopts 2019 budget

The Port aux Basques Town Council (front row, from left) Deputy Mayor Todd Strickland, Mayor John Spencer, Justin Blackler; (back) Chester Coffin, Jerome Battiste, Jim Lane and Melvin Keeping.
The Port aux Basques Town Council (front row, from left) Deputy Mayor Todd Strickland, Mayor John Spencer, Justin Blackler; (back) Chester Coffin, Jerome Battiste, Jim Lane and Melvin Keeping. - Photo courtesy of John Rene Roy

Mill rate unchanged but tax increases on the way

PORT AUX BASQUES, N.L.

The Port aux Basques town council adopted its 2019 budget during this year’s first regular meeting of council held Tuesday, Jan. 15.

While the mill rate for residential and commercial establishments will remain unchanged, the 2019 budget will see increases to water and sewer taxes, poll tax and minimum tax rate.

During his address to council, Mayor John Spencer noted that tax rates for these services have remained largely unchanged for years.

The poll tax, which will increase to $300, was last changed in 2001. The minimum tax rate has not changed since 2010, but will now increase to $300 as well.

Residential water rates have not changed since 2006, while sewage and commercial water rates have not increased since 2001.

The increase to the water rate of $5 per month will see the annual fee for residents rise to $348, which is still well below the provincial average of $387. Sewage fees will increase by $2.50 per month.

  • Tax totals
  • The municipal tax increases for Port aux Basques residents are as follows:
  • Residential/Commercial Mill Rates – no change.
  • Minimum Residential/Commercial Property Tax – $225—$300, which means an additional $6.25 per month.
  • Residential Water will go from $288 per year to $348, which works out to an additional $5 per month.
  • Residential Sewer will go from $30 per year to $60, meaning an additional $2.50 per month.
  • Commercial Water will go from $270 per year to $348, for an additional $6.50 per month.
  • Commercial Sewer will go from $30 per year to $60, an additional $2.50 per month.
  • Poll Tax will go from $200 per year to $300, which works out to an additional $8.33 per month.
  • Minimum Business Tax will go from $200 per year to $300, which is also an additional $8.33 per month.
  • Business Tax Class I – 13 mills has been in effect since 1993.
  • Business Tax Class II – 100 mills has been in effect since 2010.
  • Business Tax Class III – 1 per cent of gross revenue has been in effect since 1993.
  • Business Tax Class IV – 2.5 per cent has been in effect since 1993, as is governed by the Provincial Public Utilities Act.

Spencer also noted that the new reality of climate change and severe weather that has resulted in damage to infrastructure must be accounted for in the budget, along with a federally mandated directive to deal with waste water which will require significant investment.

Port aux Basques has submitted a request for funding for a $2.79 million sewer outfall project along the entirety of Grand Bay Bottom. Should the request be approved, the cost to the town is estimated at $545,665.

The new waste management station at Cape Ray, coupled with a provincial agreement to purchase a new garbage truck has also played a factor in the increase. The cost of the new truck, set at a 70/30 provincial split, will not fall exclusively to Port aux Basques residents, as the truck will service the southwest coast.

“Overall, the town is still on a sound financial footing,” Spencer said to fellow council members. “Even with cost-shared initiatives related to municipal improvement, the town's forecast debt ratio for 2019 will be at 10 per cent. This is well below the allowable provincial figure for municipalities at 30 per cent.”

In order to offset the sting of these increases, the budget also allows for a 2.5 per cent discount for residents who choose to pay their taxes early.

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