Council candidate Darrell Power says his company has settled 7-year tax debt owed to city
St. John’s City Hall went to court in May over nearly $30K in unpaid taxes
A candidate for St. John's council says he has paid off a debt his company owed to the city in relation to seven years of unpaid taxes.
Darrell Power told CBC News on Monday he settled the arrears before launching his bid for a seat as an at-large councillor in this month's municipal election.
In May, the city sued Power's company, Old Tyme Music Limited.
As a candidate in this election, my position is people need to pay their taxes and the city needs to work with the property owner to do what they can to collect them. I have a great degree of empathy for everyone in this situation.- Darrell Power
The city's statement of claim alleged that the company didn't pay residential, commercial and water taxes for the property it owns on Cookstown Road from May 31, 2010, to the time the lawsuit was filed.
According to court documents, the total amount owing, including interest, was nearly $30,000.
Power is the sole director of Old Tyme Music.
In a written statement to CBC News, Power said the matter has been resolved.
"For a long period of time, I did owe back taxes for a property in the downtown area," Power wrote.
"Renovations were made to the property I own through my company, but all attempts to sell the building or lease it were to no avail. It sat vacant. A sale of the property would resolve the debt but that has taken much longer than I thought. Since the recent economic downturn, it is safe to say that I am probably not alone in this predicament."
1st run for St. John's council seat
Power is a musician, and former member of Great Big Sea. He is also a radio talk show host and entrepreneur. This is his first run for a council seat.
"As a candidate in this election, my position is people need to pay their taxes and the city needs to work with the property owner to do what they can to collect them," Power noted.
"I have a great degree of empathy for everyone in this situation."
City officials did not reply to questions about the status of the lawsuit, which had not been discontinued at court as of Monday afternoon.
Power added, "My understanding is that the court case which has yet to be closed has already been settled. But I am pleased to say that this matter has been brought to a successful conclusion. I no longer owe any money to the city of St. John's."
'The taxes are too high'
In an interview with CBC News on Tuesday afternoon, Power said he believes that tax reform needs to happen at city hall.
"The taxes are too high. It needs to be addressed. We need to do something about it. It's actually part of the reason why I'm running for council," Power said.
"I think we need to start spending wisely, spending a bit fairly, get our spending under control. Maybe start reallocating funds to things that make more sense for the city. But one thing is for certain: we are paying too much tax."
City ramping up tax collection efforts
Earlier this year, a CBC News investigation revealed that there was $13.8 million in total property tax receivables due to the city, as of the end of 2016.
- CBC INVESTIGATES | Problem properties owe millions in taxes to St. John's city council
- CBC INVESTIGATES | Mayor defends transparency at St. John's city hall after criticism by privacy watchdog
A CBC analysis found that a relative handful of properties accounted for the bulk of the unpaid money — 226 properties owed more than $10,000 each, for a total of $10.8 million.
The city has since discussed options to step up actions to recover overdue cash.
CBC News came across the lawsuit involving Old Tyme Music in a routine followup search of court actions filed by the city.
Under provincial law, individuals with personal tax debts to municipalities aren't permitted to run for a council seat.
But business debts don't disqualify potential candidates.