Council passes tax rates

Although it is much later than usual, the 2001 Fort Frances property tax rates and due dates have now been set.
During last night’s regular meeting, council approved a two percent increase on residential taxes necessary to have the same budget as in 2000.
“It was to allow us to remain status quo with the tax dollars we made last year,” noted municipal treasurer Diane Pearson.
The increase was necessary in order to maintain last year’s budget due to 2000 property reassessments which brought down tax revenue by $76,330.
The threat of high residential tax increases or severe budget cuts because of the provincial Bill 140 was avoided because of substantial education tax cuts which offset the bill.
Bill 140 implements a cap on all commercial, industrial and multi-residential properties forcing any budget shortfalls to be taken from residents.
The tax ratio of residential, industrial and commercial properties will remain unchanged in 2001.
Council also approved due dates for the property tax bills which will be paid in two installments.
The dates are Oct. 31 and Nov. 30 with the bills to be mailed out by the town no later than 21 days before the due dates.
Pending upgrades of municipal software here, the billing process will be done by the Municipal Tax Equities group after information is gathered by Fort Frances staff.
“If we spend our $300,000 in 2002 for a new computer system we hopefully, because a lot of jobs are on the line, have the ability to do them next year,” noted Mayor Glenn Witherspoon.
Because of the lateness of the bill and lost interest, the town may have to borrow some money before the tax revenue comes in.
“It’s going to be very close, we’ll be very fortunate if we don’t have to borrow,” noted Pearson.
The Business Improvement Area’s (BIA) tax rate was also increased as suggested by BIA’s board.
“They asked to increase their taxes to themselves,” explained Coun. Sharon Tibbs.
The board requested that $40,000 be levied compared against property owners compared to $34,500 last year, an increase of 16 percent.