BAY ROBERTS, N.L. — Taxation concerns from residents of the Butlerville area were addressed at a recent Bay Roberts Town Council meeting.
One of the first items addressed at the regular meeting of council, held on Tuesday, July 17, was a taxation issue brought up by residents near the end of Butlerville, who had previously requested a refund of taxes paid in the area.
The residents in question are outside of the taxable boundary for the Town of Bay Roberts, and as such, the town does not have legal authority to tax in that area. This discovery was made when an investigation was carried out for the potential addition of municipal water and sewer services in the area. These residents were being charged regular property tax rates on their assessed value, but were never charged for water and sewer services.
At the time of this initial discovery, a recommendation was made by the executive committee that chief administrative officer Nigel Black determine the properties that had been taxed outside the boundary and correspond to them – a correspondence that includes a recommendation from the town for a flat rate to be set for the residences receiving services in the area in question, excluding vacant properties. If an agreement was met between the town and these residents, then services already provided to them will continue.
However, as Black explained during the July 17 meeting, the town did not receive any forms back from residents of the area. However, Black noted that a letter was received, as well as a phone call, indicating that many of the property owners who received the correspondence were unsure as to what to include on the form, adding that the issue was too complex to deal with in that manner.
Since then, a meeting was held between residents and the executive committee on Wednesday, July 11.
“Basically, (the executive committee) arranged to have a meeting with some of the residents and property owners in that area, and we tried to come up with a fee structure that was appropriate for the residences there,” Black said.
He also noted that a resident at the July 11 meeting identified several other properties in the area that were not included in the list, which turned out to be vacant land that will need to have their status verified in terms of past taxation.
“At the end of the day, we proposed a rate of $600 for each residential property of that area, so you’re talking seven residences,” he said. “We had a lot of discussion back and forth. Basically, they felt that $400 was a reasonable price.”
These numbers stem from the services being provided to these residences by the Town of Bay Roberts. These services include garbage and waste disposal, fire protection, street lighting, and road maintenance – all of which contributed to the fees of $600 proposed by the committee.
“We offered $500 as a possible compromise, and it wasn’t readily accepted within the room,” Black went on to say. “So, we said we’d bring it back to council and lay out the two positions to see what (council) had to say.”
Black also noted that the committee felt as though the $500 proposal was an affordable fee for the services being provided, noting that anything less would simply not be justifiable.
If, in the future, the boundaries are expanded in order to accommodate water and sewer services for the area, Councillor Geoff Seymour noted that this agreement would once again be at the forefront of the conversation, as some amendments would once again need to be made.
“I think $500 is a reasonable number,” Coun. Dean Franey added, noting that the portion of the money being used for fire protection is similar to what residents of Port de Grave are paying for the same service. “If we leave that where it is, dropping the overall cost to $400 would leave very little money for the rest of the services.”
Ultimately, a motion was made, and carried, to carry through with the $500 fee, as opposed to the $600 fee that was originally proposed.