St. John's business leaders preparing to fight city budget

More than 40 members of the St. John's Board of Trade gathered Thursday morning to voice their concerns about the tax implications in this year's city budget.

Board of Trade members say city fixated on revenue instead of dealing with ballooning expenses

Kim Keating is the outgoing chair of the St. John's Board of Trade. (Keith Burgess/CBC)

St. John's city council should brace for another onslaught of criticism over its 2016 budget.

More than 40 members of the St. John's Board of Trade gathered Thursday morning to voice their concerns about the tax implications in this year's city budget.

In the end, there was unanimous condemnation of a fiscal plan that will see taxes increase and threaten the viability of some businesses.

The meeting included a closed-door session during which members could discreetly speak about the impacts of the budget.

The gathering attracted a wide range of members, small business owners and large-scale developers.

Kim Keating, chair of the St. John's Board of Trade, said many expressed grave concerns.

Keating said she heard from one business owner who will pay an additional $104,000 in taxes this year.

"There are some members here today who don't know if they'll be around in two years' time," she stated.

Challenges from softer economy

One property owner told CBC News he expects his taxes to go up by 30 per cent, which he said will have to be passed onto his tenants.

"It's going to be a hardship," said Bill Mahoney of Regal Realty Limited.

The board hopes to arrange a meeting with city leaders in order to underscore the challenges being faced by members, who are coping with a softening economy.

Keating said it's clear that the relationship between the business community and city hall is at a low point.

"We need to help them have a better understanding of the perspectives of the business community," she said, adding she hopes the city will agree to "do things differently."

Council has faced a barrage of criticism from various sectors, and have rescinded several cost-saving measures.

Many in the business community feel the city is fixated on the revenue side of the ledger, while not dealing with ever-increasing expenses.

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