Posted on: April 28, 2014 | General News
The Minister is right in his claim that my figures were inaccurate (Cottagers want answers, April 5, 2014), but he remains dead wrong on the significance of the error and the meaning of the data.
First, in the interest of fairness, our attempt to correctly state sources of revenue from cottagers was in error, but it was what in tennis is called a “forced error”. In all the pages of financial data the Ministry provides on its web site, nowhere is there any information on sources of revenue. So to find out how much the government collects in lease payments from cottagers, we had to turn to the annual report for 2012/13 of the Crown Lands and Property Agency. On page 11 of that report, we found an entry for revenue collected from Vacation Home Leases and Permits, our source for the figure of $4,021,000 in cottager lease payments in our table. We had no way of knowing that this figure blended the $1.7 million figure for service fees with what should correctly have been specified as $2,321,000 in revenue from leases and permits. As a result we overstated the contribution of cottagers to Government revenues.
However, our main point stands. On recalculation, Cottagers still provide an excess of revenue over expenses to the Government amounting to $1,073,791.00 per year. So it is still the case that we are subsidizing the province, and not the other way around.
This is contrary to the original statement of the Minister, when he claimed that the province was subsidizing the cottager “fat cats” (as I recall your reporters reported his accusation). But I won’t be holding my breath for a retraction on this key point by the Minister, since he appears to be girding his loins for a legal battle. Nor can we expect to see a revision of the Ministerial policy to withhold critical information on costs and revenues in the Parks, despite their obligation to do so. But I do still have hopes that reporting by the Free Press return to its standard of holding the government’s toes to the fire, rather than rewarming their dubious arguments.
Read the Free Press article here: