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Letter: Town of Port aux Basques in competition with local landlords

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Dear Editor,

The town of Port aux Basques, and the federal and provincial governments, are going into competition with local landlords and they are using taxpayers’ dollars once again.

This was displayed in your last Gulf News (“Just the beginning: Eight affordable housing units to be built on site of former Bruce Arena” – July 23 edition).

All involved think it’s a great thing, but it’s always so easy for government to waste our tax dollars to show off, but local investors went to banks, signed on the dotted lines, put up assets for collateral to buy or build rental units. When this is done, the towns have no problem charging property tax and water tax to the private owners.

Where this so called “affordable housing” is being built was up for sale a year or so ago, and the town was given an offer of $50,000 to $60,000 from a private person who was planning to build his own units. This would have been money to the good in the town’s account, plus the constructed building would have generated property tax and water /sewer tax forever to the town’s account.

Only a year or two ago, our provincial government increased all fees, permits, and tax on insurance, tax on and fuels, and so on, because it said we were so far in debt they needed the extra money to balance the books.

Now all of a sudden, they are tossing millions of our tax dollars to a lot of towns around the island to build so called “affordable housing” when really, it’s not, because it’s low-rental housing based on a person’s income. When this building belongs to the town, they lost the sale of the land to the private sector and the building won’t be taxable by the town for property, water or sewer tax. They can’t tax themselves.

Also, there are always vacant apartments all over town, so why should the town be in competition with its residents?

Another good example was when the town took over Barry’s fish plant here.

I would estimate Barry’s was paying at least $50,000 to $60,000 per year in property tax, business tax and water tax to this town.

If this property had been sold again, the town would have gotten that money to the good, plus the estimated taxes again every year.

Instead they took it over, lost the money from the resale and the tax base from whoever would have purchased it.

Then our fine government used a lot of our tax dollars again, giving the town money for labour and grants to fix it up. These types of projects should be done by private investors and not the town.

They rented some of this space for a while, but now most of it is vacant again, so what the town thought would be an asset is now really a liability to its taxpayers. Therefore, our tax dollars are now paying the insurance on it, plus metered power bills, maintenance, snow clearing, etc. Also, it’s not a taxable property for the town now because they own it.

This town thinks it’s great to expect all of our taxes while they compete against local investors “tax free” and use the common people’s tax dollars to do it.

So this is why I think it is time for towns to stay out of business and spend our tax dollars on what they were intended for in the first place.

Thank you.

Greg Sheaves

Port aux Basques, N.L.

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