NEWS RELEASE March 3/20
The attached mail drop went out to every household and business in Saint John over the past few days. The facts outlined have been taken from provincial government records,City of Saint John records including the reports prepared by the tax expert’s they engaged and CBC investigating reporting.
The expertise of the Canadian Union of Public Employeeswas utilized to produce and distribute the pamphlet.
The positive responses from residents and small businesses have been overwhelming.
The citizens of Saint John are sick – sore and tired of the “sweet heart” tax deals for heavy industry and subsidizing their drastically reduced tax assessments.
This has resulted in residents paying 61% of the City taxes collected while heavy industry pays only 8%!
The “sweet heart” LNG tax deals denied the City of Saint John over $100 million in tax revenue from to 2005 to 2020.
The 49% rollback of the assessments on the two pulp and paper mills in 2014 has denied the City of Saint John over $8 million in tax revenue from 2014 to 2020.
The largest refinery in Canada, here in Saint John, is another example of “below industry” assessment levels. The two refineries in Alberta that equal the same size and daily production is assessed at $ 268 million while the one here in Saint John is only assessed at $98.6 million.
The annual City taxes collected from the Alberta refineries is $ 26 million while the City of Saint John only gets $ 2.6 million in annual taxes-a meagre 10% of that collected from the two in Alberta.
In addition, the Alberta refineries have their equipment andmachinery tax assessed at $ 2.6 billion whereas the refinery in Saint John has a full tax exemption.(Newfoundland-Quebec-Saskatchewan -Alberta – British Columbia taxed)
The picture is crystal clear when we have the Regional Hospital paying $ 4.5 million in municipal taxes while the largest refinery in Canada pays only $ 2.6 million a year!!
These unbelievable “sweet heart” deals and low sub-standard tax assessments and tax exemptions for heavy industry have resulted in Saint John now having a lower “tax base” than both Fredericton and Moncton. Ten years ago Saint John had the largest tax base in New Brunswick – now Saint John is third – $ 1.1 Billion lower than Moncton and $ 203 million lower than Fredericton.
However the Mayor’s pay in Saint John is not lower than that of the Mayor in Fredericton. In fact it is $ 19,180 higher for Mayor Darling than Mayor O’Brien!
There is no doubt why the City of Saint John has tax revenue shortfalls or a “structural deficit” as the Mayor calls it. Heavy industry is absolutely NOT paying the proper amount of municipal taxes!
The Industry Assessment Growth from 2013 to 2019 declined in Saint John by -3.68% while it has increased in Moncton by +20.32% and Fredericton by +17.07%.
The tax experts from Ontario -Kitchen and Slack- that were hired by the City of Saint John, pointed this out very clearly in their 2017 commissioned report. They unequivocally stated that if heavy industry were assessed properly there would not be a shortfall in municipal tax revenue and in fact residents could see a decrease in their municipal taxes. The findings were also supported by then City Manager Trail’s report to Council.
The purpose of the mail drop is to provide the residents and small businesses in Saint John the facts of how they are subsidizing heavy industry.
The Mayor and Council refuse to educate the residents of the City on these facts. At the Beer and Budget sessions put on by the Mayor he did not bring forward these tax facts. The only piece of the discussion he presented was the tax revenue shortfall and blamed the wage increases for the revenue concerns.
This Mayor and Council refuse to take on the absolutely overdue tax reform on heavy industry. Instead they attack the wages of the employees protecting and serving the citizens of greater Saint John.
This and the fact the “heavy industry” owned news outletswill not give these tax facts to the public is why we had to resort to paid mail drops in order for the citizens to understand the cause of revenue shortfalls and why they pay high taxes that subsidize “heavy industry”.
There is no need for the cuts in services being put forward by this Mayor and Council if heavy industry paid the proper amount of municipal taxes.
The residents and small businesses of Saint John will not have the heavy tax burden lifted off their shoulders unless they understand the real cause of the unfair municipal taxation situation and elect politicians who are really going to bring tax reform for heavy industry.
The citizens of Saint John deserve a Mayor and Councillors who do more than attack their own employees and call names.
It is our privilege and democratic duty to make the facts known to the taxpayers of Saint John.