Municipalities to appeal park assessments

KILLARNEY—Two area municipalities, Killarney and Burpee-Mills, will be appealing their assessments on local parks that were assessed under the new method of valuation through the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC). Both have seen a significant decrease in their assessed value, which means that it is likely that payments the municipalities had been receiving in lieu of taxes through the Ministry of Natural Resources will decrease as well.

At a meeting last week Killarney council “passed a resolution, indicating how much revenue we are losing and that we are appealing our assessment,” said Candy Beauvais, clerk-treasurer of Killarney. The value assessments of its parks is slated for a decrease in the order of about $18 million.

“If this does occur it will be devastating,” said Ms. Beauvais. “We will be losing a lot of revenue for two large parks that have been entitled to payment in lieu of taxes paid by the MNR in the past. The province is looking at whether the parks are designated patented or unpatented. Crown lands that do not have a patent are exempt from taxation.”

“In 2013, and in the years following, Killarney will be impacted,” said Ms. Beauvais, who pointed out council had met with MPAC representatives as well as MNR representatives at its meeting.

The Killarney resolution noted that the municipality is extremely concerned with the new park system method of valuation which has recently been implemented by MPAC following a review of the data with the MNR. The valuation will adversely affect the current value assessments of the provincial parks within the municipality’s boundaries, reducing the previous assessed value by approximately $18 million.

The new approach will result in a significant loss of taxation revenue of approximately $200,000 or 10 percent of the municipal budget, the resolution notes.

The resolution goes on to indicate the municipality was not previously consulted or advised of the proposed changes to park valuations. The MNR is continuing to review all the parks, specifically to confirm if the Crown lands are patented or unpatented, as Crown lands that do not have a patent are exempt from taxation.

Killarney is “filing a third party appeal to the Assessment Review Board prior to the March 31, 2013 deadline relating to the provincial park assessments noted below, the assessment of $31,310,000 for Killarney Provincial Park, Killarney Lake Lands and Headways Park and the assessment of $11,542,000 for French River Provincial Park,” the resolution continues.”

“One thing our mayor (Morgan Pitfield) was saying, it is only Northern parks in the province where re-assessment is being done and that something is wrong with this picture,” said Ms. Beauvais. “We will be appealing the assessment, it is utterly crazy.” She indicated that she would be talking to Ken Noland, reeve of Burpee-Mills and chair of the Manitoulin Municipal Association, for support as well.

“We haven’t got all the information we need together yet, but we are going to appeal our assessment,” said Mr. Noland. “We would be severely affected if we lost say $160,000 in revenues.”

Mr. Noland said he is a little upset that MPAC representatives did not attend a recent MMA meeting, as this visit had been scheduled.

“We have to the end of March to file an appeal and will sit down and have a special council meeting to look at all the information we are gathering,” said Mr. Noland. “One of the many things I want answers on is why the province says overall park assessments in Ontario went up, but not for the North, that doesn’t make much sense.”

 Tom Sasvari