FONOM in agreement with gov. to change unorganized municipal tax rate structure

NORTHERN ONTARIO—It is not fair that rural incorporated municipal taxpayers pay high costs per individual for such things as policing services and landfills in the province, while unorganized municipal taxpayers do not pay as much for the same services, says the president of the Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities (FONOM).

Al Spacek said he and members of FONOM are in support of the provincial government reviewing the provincial land tax, which is the provincial tax for unincorporated areas in Ontario. The tax is less than $325 for 90 percent of residential properties and has not been adjusted in decades. Northern municipal governments and the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) have long called for this to be rectified.

“Is it not fair that adjoining or unorganized townships are using all services in the municipalities, such as arenas, libraries, landfills and policing services, but are not paying the same share proportionately,” said Mr. Spacek.

“When you are talking about inequities, for instance in policing, and $6 per household in unorganized townships and municipalities paying more for that, over $800 in some cases, this is a very wide range. There needs to be changes made to make things more equitable in taxation,” said Mr. Spacek.

The North Shore debated this topic at the OPP billing model session held in Sault Ste. Marie recently. They were upset that the large numbers of residents of unorganized townships were not taxed for road maintenance or policing services, yet were using their municipal roads to access properties and homes in unorganized townships, as well as benefitting from police services paid by incorporated municipalities.

In a report to its members recently, AMO reported from the highlights of its November 2013 board meeting on Ontario’s fall economic statement and municipal governments: “The board received an overview of the government’s 2013 fall economic statement. The province says it is on track to meet its 2017-2018 target to balance the budget under its proposed deficit plan. That plan involves, among other matters, implementing 60 percent of the Drummond Commission’s recommendations, further expenditure reviews for greater efficiencies and implementing the office of the financial accountability officer. There are several matters of particular note to municipal governments including: “the intent to review the provincial land tax which is the provincial tax for unincorporated areas in Ontario. The tax is less than $325 for 90 percent of residential properties and has not been adjusted in decades. Northern municipal governments and AMO have long called for this to be rectified.”

“These changes may not be part of this spring’s provincial budget, but we are happy that the government is looking at this and is addressing it,” said Mr.Spacek.

Tom Sasvari