Pouch Cove business owner fuming after tax bill goes up, almost 8 times over

·3 min read
Pouch Cove business owner fuming after tax bill goes up, almost 8 times over
CBC
CBC

The owner of an RV campground in Pouch Cove is crying foul after tax changes have left him holding a projected bill that's nearly eight times what he paid last year.

Dave Snow, who owns Marine Park, says a complex array of municipal tax changes last month have left him fuming.

"From $10,000 a year ago, the campground business alone will go up to over $78,000," he said. "Not counting the RV, the propane, the self storage — none of those included. It's substantial." Snow says two things are at play. The taxes jumped because the municipal assessment agency split his one business into four, and determined his business is about more than just camping.

So, the town is now taxing him at a much higher rate — his campground mill rate alone goes from 14 mils to 70.

"We had some disagreements and miscommunications with the municipality," he said, noting that the province sided with him after the town objected to families staying at the park year-round during the pandemic.

WATCH | The CBC's Cec Haire speaks with business owner Dave Snow and Pouch Cove Mayor Joedy Wall:

"I don't know if this is a form of retribution or punishment … but it's certainly punishing, and after two-and-a-half decades it really feels like we're being singled out and persecuted, and fairly maliciously at that." Snow took over the day-use picnic park from the province 24 years ago. It now boasts 450 campsites, a propane refill station, a convenience store, self-storage, RV sales and an outdoor tool dealership.

Council did not foresee impact on business

Mayor Joedy Wall denies any ill intent, and told CBC News council didn't realize how the changes would affect Snow when they passed the town's budget.

Wall said it wasn't clear, at the time, how much Snow's business had grown through renovations and additions. "He has a large business, there's no doubt," Wall said. "It has grown leaps and bounds the last couple of years."

Wall said council last met on Dec. 7, when they tabled and passed the town's budget for 2021. He added that council set the rate while waiting on a reassessment for Snow's property, which came a week later.

"It was then when we realized that there was such an exponential jump in his assessment for Marine Park at that time," Wall said. "We couldn't do anything about it. It was our last meeting for the year, and we knew that we would deal with this issue in the new year."

CBC
CBC

The mayor says he understands Snow's frustration, and stresses that council wants to work with Snow, but says there's also pressure on council from mom-and-pop businesses wondering about their tax rates compared to larger companies. "We have to be logical and reasonable when we do all our taxation ... taking into consideration the smaller business owners, who said 'How can you tax me the same at this large business owner?'"

Snow told CBC he's appealing the town's mill rates and assessment by the municipal assessment agency.

Wall, meanwhile, says he's confident council can find a solution.

"I'm very proud this business is in our town," Wall said. "It's a huge draw."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador