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Saint John wants province to levy regional road toll to help balance the books
SAINT JOHN, N.B. -- Saint John is looking beyond its borders to help solve its approximately $10-million deficit and put the city on the right financial track.
"I think there's an inequity in the system we've been living with for a long time," said Saint John mayor Don Darling.
"It's broken and I think people know it, and it needs to be corrected."
This week, Saint John council was presented with its sustainability plan, the long-awaited road-map to the city's financial future.
Included is a recommendation that the province implement a regional tax levy put in road tolls, saying that extra costs to service residents outside the city are estimated at $12.3 million.
"It would be, if you will, a lump-sum payment in the form of a levy, to offset all of these other distractions, annoyances, and friction points that currently exist within the region," said Saint John city manager John Collin.
An annual household levy of $265 would net $6 million, while $353 would mean $8 million. If the cost-sharing is put in place, the city recommends no regional fees be paid to the city.
Quispamsis deputy mayor Libby O'hara, a member of the regional management task force, says for her, this all came out of the blue.
"This did not involve the collaboration of the regional mayors and councils and CAOs," O'Hara said. "So, in that regard, it's extremely disappointing."
Rothesay city manager John Jarvie, says Saint John already receives money for its role a regional hub.
"The city is representing that they are a hub for the region, we certainly acknowledge that," Jarvie said. "The city also receives about $ 15 million in recognition of their role as a hub, but that doesn't seem to be taken into account."
There's a two-week consultation period for the report and it comes back to council on May 4.