Monday, March 1, 2021

Council sends pair of tax rate reports back to staff

Municipality of Chatham-Kent Council sent a pair of staff reports surrounding tax rates back to administration for more information and consultation during their electronic meeting on Monday, October 5, 2020.

South Kent Councillor Mary Clare Latimer entered a successful motion for a report on farm tax ratio to be postponed to a spring 2021 Council meeting.

Latimer said this would allow time for Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) representatives to present up to date re-assessment information prior to Council making a decision.

Latimer’s motion also directed staff that this meeting would be scheduled prior to the 2021 tax policy report, which is expected in late April of 2021.

Public consultation will be completed prior to the report coming forward, Latimer said in her motion.

In the report, staff had been recommending the farm tax class ratio be “reinstated at the Provincial threshold” with a phased in approach of 23% in 2021, 24% in 2022 and 25% in 2023 and onward.

“A return to the standard 25% farm tax ratio would bring the cost share ratio of infrastructure back in line with what was intended when OMAFRA developed the farm tax rebate program,” said Matt Torrance, director of financial services, in a report.

“The actions of previous councils have mitigated farm tax increases for high value farmland for close to two decades, but it is time to return the ratios back to their intended thresholds and no longer have industry, commercial businesses and residential properties subsidize the farm sector.”

Council also voted to postpone a report on tax rate modernization and area charges, which was also set to include a presentation from staff.

Chatham Councillor Doug Sulman entered a successful motion to postpone this report to the second meeting of November of this year, with public consultation taking place prior to.

Staff had been recommending that the following actions “to support a streamlined and transparent approach for property tax calculations” be approved:

– Elimination of area rating for police services.

– Elimination of area rating for street lights.

– Elimination of area rating for horticulture.

These three items would then be included within the base levy, the staff report indicates.

“Tax rates are comprised of the base levy, education support, and area rated services,” Torrance said in this report.

“Annually, these rates are recalculated to adjust for changes in the budget. This process is complicated and inefficient. Reducing the number of area rated services and deviating from the pre-amalgamation approach to taxation provides the framework for better decision making in the future, and drastically increases transparency through a simplified taxation methodology.”

During the meeting, Latimer said many of the farmers and rural residents that would be impacted by both of the tax rate reports were “out in the fields” and it wasn’t the best time of year to make these decisions.

Both of the postponed reports can be read, below:

Farm Tax Ratio

Tax Rate Modernization – Area Charges

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