Burpee Mills council still considering filing an appeal on property tax assessments

EVANSVILLE—Burpee-Mills council is still considering filing an appeal to the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) on all farmland assessments in the township under the new assessment values released by MPAC. Although the date for appeal of these farmland property assessment values had been March 31, 2017, Burpee-Mills has been granted an extension by MPAC.

“This (assessed values) are all going to be difficult on farmers and municipalities here and across the Island,” said Burpee-Mills Councillor Wayne Bailey, after a council meeting Monday evening. “We think the assessments are based on speculations by MPAC and we want to know if this is true. We feel they (MPAC) have been assessing the farm property values based on prices of farm property sales in southern  Ontario and they have been projecting what is going to happen on Manitoulin Island. But we feel these increased values are not happening on the Island, that they are not the real sales figures for these properties.”

Ken Noland, reeve of Burpee-Mills confirmed, “the municipality is still considering appealing all farmlands classified by MPAC (in the township) based on the new assessment values they released. We are still working with MPAC and trying to get access to the 21 farm sales on the Island that they (MPAC) used to determine the current assessments.”

“Council feels MPAC’s new assessment values do not reflect the actual market values-prices,” said Reeve Noland. “We’ve been working with MPAC, trying to get the information on the farm sales values they used. It is taking a  long time to get this information. The original date for launching appeals had been March 31, 2017, but we (township-council) had sent a request to the (MPAC) assessment review board to have this extended, and have been granted an extension.”

“We’re still waiting for the data and how MPAC determined the new assessed values for farm properties,” continued Reeve Noland. “What we are worried about is what implications these assessments are going to have on the community as a whole. The shift in tax burden that has been placed on farmland, farmland is taxed at 25 percent, and municipalities are going to be required to increase their tax rate to compensate for the lost revenues.”

Reeve Noland explained farmers will see a doubling of their taxes, and the municipality is concerned about the effects this will have on the community, for instance for retired farmers that lease out their property out to other farmers using the pasture (for the price of taxes being paid on the property). It will not be economical or feasible for either to do so now, he said.

“We have an extension and would like information from MPAC on the 21 properties they used to assess the property values for the farms on Manitoulin Island,” said Councillor Bailey. “MPAC said yes, they will consider sharing these numbers, but as Ken (Noland) said at our meeting there are a lot of stipulations on this, for instance we can’t share the information with other municipalities.”

“We would like to know what properties they have been looking at and what the sales have actually been,” said Councillor Bailey. He noted 70 appeals have been made by property owners in Burpee-Mills, “and we haven’t heard anything  positive in terms of reconsideration on their request for reconsideration of the assessed values.”

Councillor Bailey added, “all of this really affects our assessment and millrates in the township and will affect all of Manitoulin Island. Farm properties are being doubled in assessment, so they are paying twice as much in taxes. This works out to a $2 million assessment in  Burpee-Mills. But farmers are assessed at  25 percent and our residential taxes have decreased  by $1.6 million. Farmers are being affected because they are paying double, but it still doesn’t make up the loss we have on residential taxes. It’s going to make it tough on budget deliberations.”

“And the increases will be very hefty for some farmers, their profit is based on how much tax they have to pay on their land,” said Councillor Bailey. He added, “it is going to be difficult for farmers and municipalities.”

“The bottom line is we wonder how MPAC got this so wrong?” added Reeve Noland.