HARBOUR GRACE, NL —Coun. Kathy Tetford presented Harbour Grace’s 2018 tax structure at Monday’s council meeting, which includes positive news for taxpayers in the community.
There will be no increase in taxes for residents, with the mill rate remaining at 7.75 per cent.
The town has decided to change how it handles roadside vendor permits. Tetford, chair of the finance committee, noted the town had issues with these permits in the past.
“There are people looking for daily rates and things like that,” she said. “But there’s a $200 charge, which is the basic minimum business tax. That makes it fair to all with a business, whether it’s a home business or something else. That $200 goes to everyone, whether you’re setting up for one day at an event, or going all year.”
There are some slight exceptions to this, however. Tetford said for certain events in the town, such as Canada Day or the annual regatta, some businesses may act as separate entities, requiring different conditions be met, often resulting in extra money needing to be paid. However, all these charges are annual, and must only be paid once per business, once per year.
“Somehow, this got broken down into a daily, $25 or so, fee in past years, and that was causing a lot of problems. Especially for enforcement officers, and anyone trying to keep track of these things.”
This was one of the two major changes that Tetford brought forth during the meeting. The other included the due date for taxes in the community – a date that has been altered to reflect the fact that bills will be going out slightly later than usual. The new due date for taxes to be paid is June 30, with an added bonus that taxes paid by March 15 will receive a four per cent discount.
Although the deadline for the 2018 budget is set at Jan. 31, Tetford mentioned that the town would need to update Municipal Affairs after they have another meeting on the budget in the coming week.
School zone speed limits
Toward the end of Monday’s meeting, Deputy Mayor Sonia Williams brought up the speed limit in the school zone near St. Francis. She would like to see it reduced from 50 km/hr to 30, though past attempts by council to make such a change have failed. The school is located on a provincial road.
“We discussed this one time before, that we’d like to see (the speed limit) go down to 30,” Williams said. Upon being informed by the town’s Chief Administrative Officer the Department of Transportation and Works did not approve council’s previous request to drop the speed limit, Williams requested to have the denial confirmed.
“I think we should get that confirmed, so that we can let the people of Harbour Grace know why it’s not being dropped,” she added.
Following this, Tetford questioned whether or not the town owned the small island in the area dividing roads along the school zone. She suggested the town erect small signs stating the town’s request that drivers slow down, even if the posted speed limit remains at 50.
“I see a big difference in those speeds. I go down there a lot, and even when I’m just watching the area, there’s certainly a difference between 50 and 30, especially in a school zone,” Tetford said.
Williams ultimately made a motion for council to contact the department, requesting again that the speed limit see a reduction. However, Mayor Don Coombs had a different solution.
“Why don’t we add it to our agenda for (Steve Crocker)?” he said, alluding to an upcoming meeting with the minister of Transportation and Works and local MHA Pam Parsons scheduled for early February. “We’ve already sent a letter to them, and we’ve already gotten rejected. So, we can include on our agenda for this meeting that we’d like to discuss school zones, and speed limits in the zones.”
A new motion was made for this item to be added to the agenda for the February meeting, and was carried unanimously.