Farm assessments on Manitoulin doubled for 2016

MPAC official claims farmers agree on new farmland valuation

MANITOULIN—Manitoulin Island farmers received their Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) assessments in recent weeks and with it what might have come as a surprise for many—a doubling of their previous assessment.

Assiginack council hosted Laura Voltti, accounts manager for Sudbury and Manitoulin Districts at MPAC, to discuss assessment values for the municipality during its council meeting last week.

Farm properties “are the story of this assessment,” Ms. Voltti told council.

In Assiginack, single family homes have seen a rise in assessment at 2.16 percent (or an average of $142,000) while a single family home on the water has gone down in assessment by 0.68 percent (to an average of $293,000).

Single family homes are stable for the municipality, but farm properties, across the province, have seen their assessments double.

“And farmers aren’t saying we’ve got it wrong,” he said. “We’ve seen the biggest increase to farm properties, but we’re also most confident in these numbers.”

Ms. Voltti explained that the way farms are assessed changed with the 2016 MPAC assessment by: improving sales verification; increasing the period to analyze sales (now six to eight years); simplifying the geographic areas; and updating the cost manual (cost to build minus depreciation).

She said there are a number of factors affecting the demand for farmland: land being purchased for non-agricultural purposes; producers expanding; a need for different soil types; nutrient management; and buyers from high-priced areas relocating to cheaper lands (such as Northern Ontario).

“There’s been a 72 percent increase in the assessment for Northern Ontario (farm properties) in four years,” Ms. Voltti said. The more southern parts of Northern Ontario, such as Manitoulin, are in the 100 percent increase range.

“I would tell you to encourage farmers to go online to,” Ms. Voltti suggested to staff.

The new assessments do not take effect until January 1, 2017 and so Assiginack does not yet know how these numbers will affect the mill rate (the figure representing the amount per $1,000 of the assessed value of property, used to calculate the amount of property tax). Currently, the Assiginack mill rate for residential stands at 0.01684054 while farms are listed at 0.00424014, a lower rate which is the norm for all municipalities.