Alnwick/Haldimand Mayor John Logel

Article & images by Valerie Macdonald

County Council votes to bring tax rates more in sync with surrounding jurisdictions.

Northumberland County councillors voted unanimously during a council session to change tax ratios that will raise the tax rate on residential properties. This will allow the County to be more competitive with neighbouring municipalities and jurisdictions when it comes to industrial rates.

County CAO Jennifer Moore explanation was that currently, the county’s rates are “out of whack” and impede the county’s ability to attract industry. “The Ministry of Finance has placed a levy restriction on municipalities effective in 2017 with a multi-residential ratio that exceeds 2.0000 such that budget increases cannot be passed onto the class and therefore are absorbed by all other tax classes.  Reducing the ratio to 2.0000 means that the multi-residential class will now share in the budgetary increase.”

According to Moore, “The County’s strategic plan identifies goals for enhancing strategies for attraction and retention of new industry and expansion of core businesses… Reducing the industrial ratio downwards towards the comparator average is aligning our tax policy with our strategic policy.”

County spokesperson Kate Campbell explained further in an e-mail interview, “(Moore) was referring to the fact that Northumberland County’s multi-residential and industrial tax ratios are high relative to our comparator municipalities and they have not changed in approximately 10 years. The multi-residential ratio was high at 2.2160 against our comparator average in 2017 at 1.7928.  The industrial ratio was also high at 2.6300 versus our comparator average of 2.1717 in 2017.”

The change in rate is not that much per household, staff told county councillors after Alnwick/Haldimand Mayor John Logel suggested rural townships without industry will be hardest hit.

“(The) estimated impact to the County portion of taxation for the average single detached property County-wide from the change in tax policy (multi-residential and industrial) is approximately $4 or an increase of 0.36%,” County treasurer Glenn Dees stated in an e-mail interview.

 The impact for each member municipality will vary depending on final budget approvals. Using a hypothetical 1.5% budget increase for each municipality, the year-over-year increase on total property taxation with the change in tax policy and reassessment (inclusive of the upper tier, lower tier and education taxes) for the average single detached residential property would range from 0.08%-2.00%.  The dollar impact year-over-year for lower-tier property taxation from the change in taxation policy ranges from $1 (rural) – $16 (urban) averaging at approx. $6 overall.”

He also noted that education tax rates are less this year than last year.