Central Manitoulin council votes in favour of a 1.5 percent mill rate increase on annual tax bills

MINDEMOYA – Central Manitoulin council passed a motion at a meeting last week that will see a slight increase in taxes for local taxpayers as part of the 2021 municipal budget. However, members of council are encouraging local residents to raise concerns to the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) concerning any large increases individual taxpayers face this year.

“After all the hours of work we have put into the budget, it all comes down to one motion,” said Richard Stephens, mayor of Central Manitoulin at a council meeting last week. 

Council considered a recommendation from its committee of the whole meeting of January 27, “that the 2021 municipal budget be approved with a 1.5 percent increase in the mill rate and further, that we authorize the treasurer to move funds from reserves and obtain loans to balance the budget.” 

“The only comment I have to make is to thank staff and council for all its efforts,” stated Mayor Richard Stephens. “Some might have wanted to see the budget set at a zero percent increase, but I think it is pretty reasonable to have a 1.5 percent increase—the same as last year.” 

Councillor Angela Johnston noted that establishing the budget was a long process, however, “I enjoyed the budget process this year. We put in place clear direction on looking at our buildings, where repairs are going to be made, and now we can look forward.” 

Councillor Rose Diebolt gave an A plus rating for the budget and everyone involved.

“I certainly echo Angela’s comments, that this was a long process, and we had to make some very tough decisions, but the budget puts us in a good position to go forward. I’m cautiously optimistic,” Councillor Steve Shaffer told the meeting.

Councillor Derek Stephens pointed out, “our ratepayers will see a 1. 5 percent increase in their taxes and say ‘here is another increase.’ But it doesn’t really affect their taxes significantly. It’s the assessment on properties that are causing the problem with tax rates. It’s the incredibly high assessments Manitoulin Island is currently facing that is the problem. It’s great if you have a house to sell for $500,000, but it isn’t if you’re trying to buy a house. The problem is the assessment—it is way too high on Manitoulin Island.”

“I agree completely with Mr. Stephens,” stated Councillor Al Tribinevicius. He said assessments can be appealed, noting “as Derek said it is nice if you’re selling a house, but if you’re trying to buy a house it is hard to afford these days and is something a lot of people can’t do these days.” 

While the exact amount that the municipality needs to draw from its reserves and the loan amount is currently under review, municipal staff indicated it will be in the neighbourhood of approximately $244,000 from reserves and loans of about $576,000.