Assessment jump to be phased in

Fort Frances ratepayers facing a huge tax hike due to the province’s market value reassessment will see some relief over the next four years as town council opted to “phase in” that increase.
Council voted Monday night to “phase in” the increase for any residential ratepayers facing more than an $800 tax increase because of the reassessment, multi-residential property owners seeing more than a $5,700 hike, and commercial and industrial ratepayers stuck with over a $11,400 jump.
But Coun. Sharon Tibbs, who chairs the Administration and Finance executive committee, stressed the phase-in was only to ease the burden of the reassessment–and wouldn’t be applied to those facing increases from improvements made to their homes.
“This was the scenario that had the least impact on the fewest amount of people,” she noted.
Only one of the town’s 3,063 residential ratepayers is facing more than a $1,000 increase due to the reassessment. That ratepayer will see other residential property owners pick up $320 of that increase for this year only.
In total, 1,030 residential ratepayers will see a zero to $100 increase in taxes due to the market value reassessment. Another 535 will see under $200, 107 to see under $300, 47 under $500, with 11 to see between a $500-$700 jump.
On the flip side, 1,332 ratepayers will see a decrease in their residential taxes from the reassessment.
Two commercial ratepayers–one of whom is facing more than a $40,000 tax increase after the reassessment–will see their hike subsidized by other commercial ratepayers.
But Coun. Struchan Gilson, the lone councillor to vote against the phase-in, questioned if it was fair to make others who may have been assessed too high in the past pay for someone who had been assessed too low.
In doing this, he said council was shifting the burden back onto that person’s neighbours. “I don’t think it’s right,” he argued.
In related news, council voted unanimously Monday not to have graduated tax increases, not to give rebates to businesses facing an “unmanageable” increase, and not to create sub-classes.
A decision on creating a new multi-residential class was deferred to October for further consideration.