A large tax hike on residential properties here due to Bill 140 may be avoided after all because of a cut in the education tax.
“There’s no doubt about it, the decrease in our share of school tax has made it much easier,” noted Mayor Glenn Witherspoon.
The recent announcement from the province that the education tax would drop from .414 to .38 will be used by council to absorb the impact of Bill 140—which caps the tax ratio for industrial, commercial, and multi-residential properties.
As a result, not only will there be no additional tax hike, but council’s initial tax increase passed earlier this year without consideration of Bill 140 may decrease.
“It’ll be less than two percent. How much, I don’t know,” said Mayor Witherspoon.
“The government said that for the year 2001, they were going to reduce the amount municipalities were going to have to collect,” he noted.
“We’ve used the money to credit to taxation. Some municipalities didn’t do that.”
In Kenora, for instance, council there decided to use the education tax cut within the municipal budget while still raising taxes by three percent to compensate for ratio and assessment changes, and as much as 9.96 percent and 6.09 percent in the former towns of Jaffray-Melick and Keewatin.
Last Friday, Fort Frances council voted to maintain tax ratios here at the same rates as the 2000 budget ratios. The exact tax rate is to be decided later this year.
Meanwhile, other district municipalities are brainstorming for ways to maintain residential taxes. In Barwick, home of Voyageur Panel, council also will try to maintain 2000 tax rates.
“Yeah, they make a lot of rules and it’s pretty hard to follow them,” noted Barwick Reeve Cecil Wilson. “We can’t hold school but we can hold our municipal rate.
“I think we’re going to work with it like you do with your wages. We’re going to work with what we’ve got,” he added.
Barwick council is scheduled to discuss its municipal tax rate during next Tuesday’s regular meeting.