As part of Corner Brook’s 2022 budget, the city’s Civic Center access fee will see marginal increases in the second half of the year. (Lindsay Bird / CBC)

The City of Corner Brook’s 2022 budget maintains tax relief for tourism operators and levies a small increase for large businesses.

After property values ​​fell more than four percent last year, the city is increasing trade taxes in six categories: grocery stores, department stores, banks, oil companies, department stores and professional operations.

These increases, which range from 5 to 10 percent, are “designed to offset the decrease in the appraisal value of these companies,” says Ryan Butt, the city’s communications manager.

Com. Charles Pender, chairman of the city’s finance committee, said that even with these increases, the city is still short of about $ 90,000 in tax revenue compared to last year.

By tabling the $ 35 million budget, Pender said, the city aimed to ensure residents get the services they need “without going overboard.”

“It’s a difficult time for everyone and has been for two years,” he said. “We’re just trying to maintain what we have without making anyone pay more than we need.”

The reduction in the burden of the pandemic was also the city’s rationale for maintaining 10% tax relief for 100 businesses in the tourism sector.

“Tourism is a strategic priority for the city, and that is why we are maintaining the reduced rate,” Butt said. “Hope this provided them with a little extra help at a difficult time.”

A return on this investment is expected in 2022, with a return from tourism expected: 22 cruise ships are expected to visit next year, the budget document says, and the postponement of twice Jigs and wheels festival is about to make its long-awaited debut.

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Tourism is not the only sector to benefit from the breaks. The budget also froze the thousandth rates for residences and all other categories of businesses.

Next year will also see the start of a number of capital projects that have been postponed due to the pandemic, Pender said. Among them, a new aquatic center for which the city has earmarked $ 25 million.

Pender said the city’s relatively low debt of $ 7.5 million, combined with low service rates, means now is the time to invest.

“We can borrow up to 30%, which we have never done in the past. And right now we’re very low, so we have room,” he said.

The only increase residents will see in 2022 is a water and sewer unit charge of $ 25 to offset the increased operating costs of the city’s water treatment plant.

The costs of the pandemic, such as additional security to control the NLVaxPass, combined with lost revenue from fewer events, have lowered the city’s Civic Center access fee by $ 1.20 at $ 3.50 in fall 2022.

But Pender said the city plans to recoup those costs in the future.

“So we hope that if and when COVID takes hold, we will increase the revenue side,” he said.

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