Nfld. & Labrador

O'Keefe raises stakes in tax fairness campaign

The mayor of St. John's says taxes would have to be doubled to pay for looming infrastructure problems, if government rejects a new fiscal plan.

St. John's mayor to meet with finance minister, premier

St. John's Mayor Dennis O'Keefe speaks on tax campaign 1:51

St. John's Mayor Dennis O'Keefe says property taxes in the capital city would have to be doubled to pay for looming infrastructure problems, if the Newfoundland and Labrador government rejects a new fiscal plan.

"We cannot continue at this current rate," O'Keefe said,

"There has to be a new fiscal arrangement, so we can do the work right across the city, and other municipalities can do the work right across the province.  That needs to be done."

O'Keefe is scheduled to meet with Finance Minister Tom Marshall on Friday and with Premier Kathy Dunderdale next month, to lay out the city's case in a campaign for a new deal.

The city argues that the provincial government is not paying its freight for key municipal services, including water and other infrastructure.

O'Keefe said he will tell Marshall that the city has stark choices to make, should the province say no.

"If we're going to do the work that we have to do, when it comes to services and infrastructure — if we're going to do that, and we don't get a new fiscal arrangement, then property taxes are going to go up 200 or 300 per cent," O'Keefe said during council's meeting Monday night.

O'Keefe said the alternative is leaving a serious problem alone, and letting it get worse.

"If we don't [raise taxes], we simply don't do the work, and somewhere down the road somebody else is going to have to pick up the tab for the increased price of renewing decaying infrastructure," he said.

O'Keefe laid out the city's case last week at pre-budget consultations, and has been enlisting the support of other municipal leaders.

Finance Minister Tom Marshall told CBC News last week that he is willing to consider the case, but warned that the provincial government is trying to keep its own house in fiscal order.

Marshall said the government is heading into the pre-budget consultations with a projected deficit for the 2012-2013 fiscal year of almost $500 million.