Assessment rises alarm writer

To the Expositor:

Do provincial politicians, especially Liberal ones, and the council of NEMI believe that taxpayers are extremely gullible, or just plain stupid?

On the front page of the October 24, 2012 edition of The Manitoulin Expositor is a half-page article by Alicia McCutcheon (‘Increased assessment of Island properties reflect true values’) on the subject of property assessments, and tax bills. She states that most properties have seen an increase in the 40 percent range. This means that your property is now worth 40 percent more than it was four years ago! Really? In whose opinion? Why MPAC’s of course!

Prior to December 31, 1997, property values were established by the Ontario Property Assessment Corporation; a Crown Corporation of the Province of Ontario. At that time, and it is still true today, all municipalities in Ontario were asking the province for more money. The province, of course, did not have more money to give them. They still don’t. So what was the “solution” arrived at by the Liberal majority provincial government? On December 31, 1997, they created MPAC, the “not-for-profit” corporation paid for by the government, and given the mandate to determine the “actual values” (Expositor’s terminology) of every property in Ontario. MPAC will quickly tell you, as they have told my wife and I at several ‘appeal’ hearings, that they, and they alone, know what the actual value of your property is! But, they don’t have to prove it! They just know it, and you cannot effectively argue that point.

According to the article, “Municipalities then take the (inflated) assessment roll and calculate taxes for each property in their municipality.”

Municipalities have the mandated right to establish mill rates each year, to adjust taxes so that their budget figures will be met. We can protest those rates, and have done so, but the final decisions rest with council alone. “It’s not surprising,” Central Manitoulin clerk-treasurer Ruth Frawley said of the increase. “We are developing quite rapidly with lot(s) of new homes and buildings being built.” She then reminded residents (taxpayers) that “just because they have seen an increase in their assessment, does NOT MEAN (capitals mine) they will see an increase in their taxes.” Strangely, that is exactly what MPAC told us at each of our appeals.

The article then goes on to state that, “A municipality calculates the amount of money required to meets its operating and capital expenses, its yearly budget, independently of the municipality’s assessment base.” Absolutely true! But they are very much aware of that same assessment base.

So, MPAC increases your property value, upon which the assessment roll is based, and the municipality increases their mill rates, but that “does not necessarily mean that your taxes will go up.”

Really? Are we gullible, or just plain stupid. Of course they will, except in very rare cases. (Cockburn Island saw the only decrease on Manitoulin Island.)

Please, politicians, tell us the truth.
Robert G. Paxton
Little Current