Corner Brook council freezes its own pay, cuts perks

Members of Corner Brook's newly elected city council decided Monday night they will tighten up the city's spending, with some of the first decisions affecting themselves.

Poll tax to be eliminated within next four years

Deputy Mayor Bernd Staeben says council is freezing its own pay and eliminating city-paid cellphones. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC)

Members of Corner Brook's newly elected city council decided Monday night they will tighten up the city's spending, with some of the first decisions affecting themselves.

Deputy Mayor Bernd Staeben delivered the budget speech, noting that council is freezing its pay and doing away with some perks that councillors had once enjoyed.

"We must lead by example," Staeben said.

Corner Brook Mayor Charles Pender says out-of-province travel is being curtailed. (CBC)
"Council has made its own sacrifices right at the start. We had said there would be no salary increases with the holding for the next four years," Staeben told CBC News. "We did also agree that we would get rid of the BlackBerrys and so on, and use our own cellphones."

Mayor Charles Pender said the city intends to save money by cutting out-of-province travel for councillors.

"For council, we've reduced the budget from $45,000, which it was in 2013, to $25,000 this year, and most of that will be in-province travel," said Pender, adding that this was one of the most difficult budgets he has ever worked on.

Poll tax on chopping block

The residential tax rate remains the same, and there are no additional or increased fees for homeowners.

Council is also promising to phase out its poll tax, which is charged consistently regardless of a resident's ability to pay.

Staeben said the poll tax will be eliminated by 2017.

"That poll tax is a regressive tax, number one, and then number two is [that] we are probably the only community in the province charging poll tax," he said.

The move is in contrast to the previous council, which last year hiked the poll tax from $175 to $200.

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