Town opts to appeal gas line assessment


Fort Frances will appeal Minutes of Settlement for gas distribution lines located within town limits after a recent reassessment by the Municipal Property Assessment Corp. (MPAC) indicated an unacceptable loss in tax revenue.
Following the removal of old Union Gas pipelines and installation of new ones that has taken place in town over the past few years, the value of the gas distribution lines has been reduced from $2,691,250 to $2,221,604.
The total financial impact of the Minutes of Settlement is $25,742.42—consisting of a reduction of municipal revenue of $19,824.88 and education revenue of $5,917.54.
Coun. Ken Perry said council doesn’t usually challenge Minutes of Settlement. In this case, however, they had the town’s tax administrator, Tara Rajala, look into it further.
MPAC had advised her that a large amount of new pipe was installed here in recent years, for which omit/supplemental assessments were issued for 2011-12. But after the old pipe was removed, Minutes of Settlement were issued.
Coun. Perry noted that Atikokan, which also had pipe replacement take place, saw the property drop in value by 2.5 percent—far less than the reduction for Fort Frances.
In Rainy River, the 2012 assessment value increased “not a lot, but some,” and in 2011, the assessed value increased by a third, he added.
“So they had an omit which increased their value,” Coun. Perry said. “And [Union Gas] has done a pile of work in the Fort Frances area in the last couple years, and they’re looking for a decrease of $25,000 in taxes.
“That’s why we’re challenging the Minutes of Settlement.”
“We must want clarification here as to why, when all new piping goes in, the assessment goes down only here,” noted Coun. Paul Ryan, chair of the committee of the whole.
Also at Monday night’s meeting, council:
•appointed Mary Hickling to the Fort Frances Museum advisory committee for a term ending Nov. 30, 2014;
•approved a request for tariff rates from Gold Star Taxi (these are $4.20 for the first .25 kilometre or part thereof, and 10 cents for each .043 km or part thereafter, with waiting time to be set at $40 per hour—the same rates as Royal Taxi and North Air Services);
•approved Association of Municipalities of Ontario conference travel and per diem claims for Mayor Roy Avis ($1,855.43), and Couns. Andrew Hallikas ($942) and Paul Ryan ($1,855.43);
•approved travel and purchase card expense claims for Fort Frances CAO Mark McCaig (the total of both was $361.71);
•approved the 2014 budget timetable;
•heard an update on capital projects from Operations and Facilities manager Doug Brown;
•heard a report from Mayor Avis re: the local delegates’ trip to the AMO conference Aug. 18-21;
•proclaimed Oct. 30 as “Child Care Worker and Early Childhood Educator Appreciation Day” in the Town of Fort Frances;
•referred an advertising request from the Northwestern Ontario Sports Hall of Fame and Museum, re: the 32nd-annual induction dinner souvenir program, to the Administration and Finance executive committee for its recommendation;
•passed a bylaw to rescind By-Law 10/13 and deem Lots 1, 2, 3, and 5 on Plan SM-122 to no longer be lots on a registered plan of subdivision; and
•passed a bylaw to sign an agreement with T. Pollard and the Canadian Union of Public Employees.