Council to vote on tax ratios

Duane Hicks

While town council has yet to finalize the 2009 budget and decide on any potential tax increases, it will receive a report on the new tax ratios and vote on whether to approve them this evening.
Town treasurer Laurie Witherspoon said she had been waiting until recently for new provincial regulations (which provide guidelines for her to calculate tax ratios) to come out so she could set the ratios.
These have since been calculated, approved by the Administration and Finance executive committee, and will be presented for council approval tonight.
“Once those are passed, I will be looking for direction from council to set another budget meeting date, and hopefully then we can finalize because once we know our tax ratios, then I can say, ‘Okay, this is the impact to this budget,’” Witherspoon explained.
“Then, hopefully they can make a decision and move on,” she added.
In simplest terms, tax ratios determine how tax rates will be calculated using the residential property class as a starting point.
For instance, if the residential property class is considered 1, and the multi-residential ratio is 2.542670 ratio, then multi-residential properties pay the residential tax rate times 2.542670.
However, because the commercial and industrial property class tax rates here are above the provincial threshold, they are “capped” or levy-restricted, meaning only 50 percent of any levy increase goes to their class while the other non-capped classes pick up the other 50 percent.
The proposed tax ratios for 2009 are as follows, with the 2008 ratios indicated in parentheses for the sake of comparison:
•multi-residential—2.542670 (2.459300);
•commercial occupied—2.095637 (2.061480);
•commercial vacant/excess property—1.466946 (1.443036);
•industrial occupied—2.762876 (2.327217);
•industrial vacant/excess property—1.795869 (1.512691);
•large industrial occupied—5.038088 (4.243667);
•pipelines—2.516360 (2.522300);
•farm—0.25 (0.25); and
•managed forests—0.25 (0.25).
Witherspoon noted council has not yet decided on any levy increases in the 2009 budget.
While the town has applied for funding for projects, if they go ahead, which will have an impact on the 2009 budget (water and sewer infrastructure work and the new library and technology centre), Witherspoon said it is possible the budget process still may move ahead prior to hearing the results of those grant applications.
“We may not hear until June, and one of the options that we can do is put it in our budget based on the funding, and then if the funding doesn’t come through, then you don’t have to go through with it,” she noted.
“The budget is your guide, and sets your priorities, but that doesn’t preclude council from taking a look at it later and saying, ‘No, we’re not going forward with this,’ or if something else comes up they wish to go forward with, there’s council resolutions for things that come up outside the budget.”
This evening’s meeting is scheduled to start around 5:40 p.m. in Council Chambers. The committee of the whole will meet first in-camera at 5:30.
Other business on tonight’s agenda will include:
•a response from the Fort Frances Public Library board to a resolution from the City of Cambridge re: Bill 128 and Internet filtering software;
•test results for the semi-annual testing for lead in the water distribution system;
•a boundary road agreement with the Township of Alberton for maintaining Oakwood Road;
•a request from Corey Cousineau of Outlast Laser Sports;
•a report regarding solemnizing marriages;
•a financial request for the Bearskin Airlines Charity Golf Classic;
•a request from the Canadian Cancer Society regarding the 2009 “Relay for Life” event;
•a travel expense and per diem claim for Coun. Rick Wiedenhoeft;
•a public meeting regarding an application for tax adjustments at 1135 River Rd. W.;
•a police services activity report from A/Insp. Steve Shouldice;
•an activities report from economic development advisor Geoff Gillon for the period of Jan. 1-March 31, 2009;
•an encroachment agreement request from C.A. Brunetta re: Stanley and Sandra Lee Perry at 430 Third St. E.;
•a request from the Ontario Realty Corp. re: parking at the Fort Frances Courthouse;
•a request from the “chem-free” grad committee;
•a request from Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus Association of Ontario to proclaim June, 2009 as “Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus Month” in the Town of Fort Frances;
•a request from Bethel Baptist Church for a street light in front of 720 Morrison Cres.;
•a bylaw to amend Bylaw No. 12/79-K (dog bylaw) to include striking out “statutory authorities” in the wording and adding Municipal Act, Dog Owners’ Liability Act, and Blind Persons’ Right Act, as well adding a definition of “kennel”; and
•a bylaw to authorize the execution of an undertaking in respect to an application to Emergency Management Ontario for funding under the Joint Emergency Preparedness Program.