Saint John council has backed down on a plan to impose higher fees on heritage home improvements as a way to help deal with the city’s financial woes.

Council has, however, reduced grants for heritage improvements to $90,000 from $200,000.

On Feb. 1, council passed a budget, which called for raising the fee for a certificate of appropriateness for work on buildings inside heritage-designated areas to $100, up from $25.

The increased fee was expected to generate an extra $10,000 a year.

But on Monday night, the necessary amendments to the city’s heritage bylaw were defeated.

Heritage advocates successfully argued it was a double tax coming on top of any building permits required.

They also convinced council the fees would be counterproductive because they discourage improvements that create additional property tax revenue.

"The fact of the matter is the $10,000 revenue that was proposed to be generated through this is really trivial when you consider that in the context of what the residents in these areas are already paying in property taxes and water taxes," said Wayne Dryer, who lives in the heritage zone.

Saint John council decided to make up the estimated $10,000 lost by reducing heritage grants to $90,000 instead of $100,000 from the previous $200,000.

The city is facing a pension deficit of $193 million.