Gordon sets small raise to taxes

GORDON/BARRIE ISLAND—Municipal tax rates in Gordon/Barrie Island will be increasing by almost five percent in 2017, largely because of the increase in non-controllable costs for services the township contributes to.

“Overall, there will be an increase in the municipal tax rates of just under five percent,” said Gordon/Barrie Island Reeve Lee Hayden, last Friday. “With the rate of inflation being two percent and the services that we pay into that we have no control on costs having increased, that’s a pretty tight budget.”

Reeve Hayden noted, “in rural municipalities like ours, this year we have seen a huge increase in farm property assessments through MPAC (Municipal Property Assessment Corporation), which will be phased in over four years.”

“Most farm property owners have asked for reconsideration on their property assessments through MPAC,” said Reeve Hayden.  “If they (the farmers) are successful in having their assessments lowered, it is something we as council will have to take into consideration as part of the budget.”

“Farm property assessments are up (in Gordon/Barrie Island), but residential rates are down this year,” said Reeve Hayden. “So the net increase is a little less than .5 percent increase in assessment. So basically there is very little change.”

“But we have had increases in our non-controllable costs,” said Reeve Hayden. “For example, our policing costs have increased 26 percent, DSB increased by 5.5 percent and our share of the Manor costs have increased 17 percent. At the end of the day the overall increase in the municipal tax rate works out to just over five percent, however, with education costs going down our overall increase in the municipal tax rate is just under five percent.”

“With the rate of inflation at two percent, that’s a pretty tight budget.”

Township clerk Carrie Lewis confirmed that the municipality, “had to bump up tax rates by a small amount. Education costs are going down, so people will not see much of a difference in their tax bill, unless they are faced with a large increase in their property assessment.”

“Council really had no leeway to work with,” said Ms. Lewis. “Considering the increases in things like policing, DSB, Manor they did a good job of keeping tax rates as low as they did.” She noted the township continues to try and keep an eye on its reserves and puts money away every year into capital reserves, especially since it is getting harder to access government funding.

Reeve Hayden stated, “we as council certainly understand taxes can be a significant portion of people’s disposable income. Gordon/Barrie Island township still has one of the  lowest tax rates on the Island. We have a good municipal staff that help manage our finances and council is responsible in keeping rates down while still running the municipality. I know there will be a concern with the increase this year, but we are still well below average compared to other municipalities on Manitoulin.”