12 August 2009

A municipal tax grab

The draft paratransit report for the City of St. John’s proposes a series of new tax grabs to pay for the system.

And deputy mayor Ron Ellsworth – also running for mayor in this fall’s municipal election – wants the whole thing in place before voting takes places:

Deputy Mayor Ron Ellsworth said that, in some way, the report would be revised to incorporate the concerns, but acknowledged that everything needs to be done by mid-September, before the municipal elections.

The report proposes:

-   a new 2.5 cent per litre tax on gasoline sold within the City of St. John’s which would produce an estimated $10 million annually,

-  a new surcharge of motor vehicle registrations for residents of St. John’s that would bring in an estimated $500,000 annually,

-  a new surcharge on both parking fees and parking fines that would bring in an additional $150,000 annually,

-  a new surcharge on taxi licenses that would generate an estimated $180,000 annually.

Having the provincial government pay the full cost of health-related transfers – something Ellsworth was talking up last January  - would bring in about $300,000 annually.  There was no public talk back then about more “creative” ways of sucking cash from taxpayer’s pockets.

Now all this might be a set of good ideas but really, there’s something fishy about the unseemly haste being display by the current council.

After all, this is the same crew that last time around busily assured everyone before the election that the Wells-Coombs Memorial Money Pit was in the black – at last – and then let us all know after the voting was done and counted that the whole thing was drowning in red ink.  The thing continues to flounder.

The paratransit system may need more money but there’s no reason to quickly and quietly grant the crowd running Tammany at Gower the right to suck an additional $10 million out the pockets of taxpayers in the city.

Let’s have way more information and discussion before this little idea gets anywhere near implemented.

Incidentally, there’s nothing about this issue on Ellsworth campaign website.