Friday, July 31, 2015

Town to revisit condo, airport issues

While town council and administration have been meeting many of the goals set out in its strategic plan, Fort Frances CAO Mark McCaig said there are a few areas that need more attention paid to them in the near future.
During a strategic plan progress report last night, McCaig noted possible plans for a condo development here have been out there since before this current term of council.

And while the town has spoken with a condo developer, the initiative “hasn’t progressed to a marked degree over the last few years.”
McCaig recommended the condo issue be brought to the Administration and Finance executive committee and talk about what the town’s long-range plans are.
“There are some people that have committed some funds and they’re probably wondering when they’re going to move into a new condo,” he remarked.
“We have to ascertain where they are at with that, if we need to reload, if we need to look at a different area in regards to who we are utilizing for a developer and whatnot,” added McCaig.
“I think we got to push this a little bit harder.”
McCaig said the notion of district support for the Fort Frances Airport also has to be revisited.
The town started debating with district municipalities more than two years ago about all parties (except Atikokan) helping foot the bill to run the airport here.
Various scenarios were discussed, including charging $5 per capita, but the response was mixed.
Emo, Morley, Chapple, and Lake of the Woods endorsed the proposal; La Vallee, Rainy River, and Dawson did not support it; and Alberton gave no reply.
Area First Nations responded by saying the idea warranted further discussion.
“Are we going to continue with this?” wondered McCaig. “It’s stayed dormant since we sent this out . . . in February of last year.
“I would really like to put this to bed for all intents and purposes, and just kind of ascertain whether council deems this to be final or if you want to try something else,” he added.
Mill reassessment
The impact of the possible reassessment of the mill property here also has not fallen off the radar, assured McCaig, adding “that has our full attention on an ongoing basis.”
A hearing before the provincial Assessment Review Board may take place next spring, and at that time “the issues will start to shake out and we’ll have a better idea where we’re going to be at, whether there’s going to be any success to the appeal or if there’s going to be a negotiation or whatnot,” said McCaig.
“Depending on what the numbers look like, it may include a thorough review of what we do and how we pay for it,” he added.
As previously reported, the mill’s owner currently has an appeal before the provincial Assessment Review Board for its property in Fort Frances.
The company is looking to have the assessment lowered from $28,260,000 to no more than $15,010,000.
If the mill appeal is 100 percent successful, the town would be looking at giving the company a refund of a little over $3 million ($2.2 million for 2009-11, plus $800,000 for 2012).
If the appeal is 50 percent successful, the refund would be $1.525 million; at 25 percent, it would be $762,720.
As well, in subsequent years, the town would see tax revenues reduced by roughly $800,000 on an annual basis.

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