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2013-12-09 at 17:38

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By Jamie Smith,
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Half a dozen communities in the region can now raise their large industrial tax rates, but Thunder Bay is keeping its options open.

Northern municipalities facing huge drops in mill property assessments have until Tuesday to raise their large industrial tax rates up to 15 per cent after Ontario's finance minister Charles Sousa granted them special permission last week.

Dryden voted to up Domtar's taxes in the town 15 per cent Dec. 5. That will help recover $472,000 of the $1 million reduction Domtar paid in 2013. The decision is on the agenda for Fort Frances Monday night.

But Thunder Bay city manager Tim Commisso said while that option has always been available to the city, the decision would hit all industry in Thunder Bay. Resolute Forest Products and the city are heading to the Assessment Review Board in January over the local mill's assessment. Resolute is asking for its property to be assessed around $25 million while the city wants it to stay at its current $72 million.

The Municipal Property Assessment Corporation puts the value at around $41 million. Commisso said the issue is a new model-based approach that sees MPAC putting values on mills based on production output.

"We fundamentally disagree with that," he said Monday afternoon. "Why should manufacturing plants get the benefit of an assessed value that's tied to their production capacity?"

"We don't belive that MPAC should be in a position to say how big that plant should be. They're not in the business of running pulp and paper mills, they're in the business of assessing properties."

All municipalities want economic development partly because of the industrial taxes generated. The model approach would hit that tax base at the expense of others, most notably the residential base Commisso said.

"The burden of the tax base is falling more onto residential (taxpayers)," he said.

There is also the possibility that the city could reach a settlement of some kind with Resolute but it remains up in the air until a decision is made through the ARB.

"Until we get through the hearing we really don't know where we stand," Commisso said.

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Tbay99 says:
The real tax problem in Thunder Bay is this ridiculous city council OVERSPENDING!

12/9/2013 5:48:20 PM
Eastender says:
Quote "the BURDEN of the tax base is falling more on the residential taxpayers".

So, having acknowledged that the property tax is becoming a burden, whats the answer? How about build a sports complex, a multimillion youth centre, oh, and while were at it, move the art gallery to the marina. There that ought to ease the tax burden on those whiny taxpayers.
12/10/2013 10:41:22 AM
cm punk says:
Love the picture of Timmy, he smells a residential tax increase. What else is new?
I wonder how home values will be now that the great mining boom is no more.
MPAC should give us a break for once.
12/9/2013 5:50:25 PM
caesarjbasquitti says:
Basing your property taxes on the 'value' of your property is like assessing your fee for parking your car, based on its worth !

This is unfair ?

Seems to put a damper on improving your home, your property ! and expanding business in this city, this province and this country.

Besides the some of the extra profit from these companies will go to pay for the wages, that pay the property taxes in this city. We all know the economic impact of shutting down the paper mills; high taxes were no help to the company and the citizens of this city ?

It should be more standardized, and if anything based on your ability to pay ?

Seems property taxes were implemented during the war to help raise funds for the war ?

War has been over for some time now ?

Perhaps City Council should have been reading the warning signs before spending its money on unnecessary items, like the $ 950,000 for those two lighted fingers on the waterfront.
12/9/2013 7:36:43 PM
Eastender says:
I agree with you 100% in regard to basing prop. tax on the value of your home. This system is archaic and should be abolished. It is based on the premise that ones home reflects ones ability to pay. If that is the case then one should pay property tax according to ones ability to pay, just like your income tax, because that is the assumption. I believe the income tax was initialy imposed as a means to pay for the war effort, I'm not sure about the prop. tax.

Your analogy of the parking fees based on the value of your car is an excellent example of how stupid the concept of property tax based on the value of your house is. It only serves to stifle the building of new homes. Time to overhaul the whole system.

Last but not least, lets get rid of the big spenders at city hall. Rob Ford may have bad personal habits, but at least he sees through the BS of the big spenders in the Big Smoke.
12/10/2013 1:55:57 AM
DougMyers says:
Property taxes are based on your ability to pay. That is why it is tied to the value of the property. If you can afford a more expensive home, you can afford the higher taxes on said home.

Your analogy is faulty. It is not like accessing for parking but much closer to the taxes you pay when purchasing your car. This is also tied to the value of the vehicle and thus to what you can afford.

This is why for a low income earner, renting is a better option.

As for the war taxes, income tax was implemented to pay for the war, not proeprty taxes.
12/10/2013 8:25:41 AM
bttnk says:
Doug, with all due respect, you also have a faulty analogy. It is nothing like taxes you pay when you buy your car. In actual fact, we've all already paid tax on the intial purchase of our home.

I have no problem paying property taxes or any tax for the services I require as a homeowner. I do have a problem with how that money is spent in this city. There is far too much waste at the City of Thunder Bay and we will continue to see tax increases until we make a concerted effort to steamline processes and reduce staff at the City. Lastly, city council shouldn't be considering a raise to industrial taxes because that will hurt the possibility of sustainable business development in the city. We need to add commerce, not give it a reason to start somewhere else.
12/10/2013 9:40:49 AM
yqtyqt says:
The flaw in your argument is that there are many seniors in town who are struggling on meager pensions. All are MOT collecting gov't or municipal pensions.

These seniors are not wealthy by any means but their homes are the last valuable asset that they have. With your argument, they should sell their homes and rent using the equity and small pension until its gone. Then what?

But I agree with the point raised by others. If you raise the industrial rates too high ( I don't know what Sousa is thinking), you'll chase more industry. Many of these outlying communities are one horse spots on the map that are the doorstep of becoming ghost towns. The province can't bail them all out. The province is quickly running out of money itself and busy wasting what's left on pet projects and handing it out to their voting base.

The real culprit in all levels of government is the out of control spending. It's simply not sustainable at its current level.
12/10/2013 10:18:14 AM
Eastender says:
Your analogy is also faulty, since when I buy my car, I pay the tax only once, not every year, like property tax.

Property tax, as it is assessed today, is still based on the assumption that the more expensive your home, the more income you have. This is a wrong assumption, since many people who could afford nice homes while they were in the work force are now forced to sell them because of the erosion in the value of their stagnant pensions. Remember, that when you retire, you no longer get the pay raises that help you keep up with inflation. Someone with a pension of 60,000/yr, has that same pension 10/15 years later, whereas someone still in the workforce would be, now, in the 90,000 dollar range. So now, the retiree, needs to sell his house, and move into an apartment? I dont see the justice in that.

I maintain the concept that property taxes should be based on your income, just like income tax, since that is what is already being assummed.
12/10/2013 10:28:05 AM
DougMyers says:
I never said it was LIKE paying taxes on your vehicel, I said it was closer to paying taxes. Property taxers are nothing like the costs for parking a vehicel, it was a faulty premise.

I simply stated a closer relationship.

I also did not state that high taxes are OK.

Paying taxes on the value of your house is the best use of the system. Stating that an pensioner cannot pay taxes on a higher value home is also faulty. That same premise could then be exteneded to include all the higher bills associated with a bigger home (electricity, gas, maintenance, etc).

So yes if they can no longer afford the cost of a high value home they need to sell it. It is not just the cost of taxes that is the burden.
12/10/2013 11:05:11 AM
yqtyqt says:
You missed my point. NOT all seniors are collecting fat government pensions. If you follow your argument, they're not only paying excessive taxes, they're paying for municipal levies which subsidize overpaid government wages and pensions. Wealth re-distribution from the poor seniors to the already well to do. A reverse Robin Hood effect.

To suggest that they be thrown out of their homes is a little to far for me.

Municipal taxes should be tied to income not the only remaining asset these seniors have.

Better still, cut municipal spending (most of which is salaries and benefits) so that the overall cost of doing municipal business is affordable.

While we're at it, cut out the waste at the senior levels of government as well. We see the waste day in, day out.
12/10/2013 2:07:39 PM
DougMyers says:
No, I got your point and refuted it. You just either refuse to listen or cannot comprehend it.

If a person cannot afford their property taxes, they therefore cannot afford the other high costs associated with owning said home. The examples I cited are electricity, gas, maintenance, etc. All of these are also associated with the value of the home. A higher valued home is generally bigger and thus has higher bills.

I NEVER suggested throwing out anyone. I said that if they can no longer afford that house then yes they should sell it and either rent or find something they can afford.

Living beyond your means is not a right. I certainly feel for anyone struggling with a pension that is not adquate. However that is not a lisence to live beyond your means. If you have equity in your home by all means sell it and use that to put yourself in a better position.

Are you suggesting they continue to struggle financially and that is somehow better?
12/10/2013 2:41:47 PM
yqtyqt says:
I'm not talking about seniors living in $250,000 homes. I'm talking about the seniors who have worked their tails off in non government jobs and retired. Living in modest homes. Taxpaying seniors who have paid for municipal services (and the employees who have subsisted off the municipal levies) who are now threatened and living on limited means. Perhaps CPP and their own meager savings.

If they have to give up their homes before the taxman forecloses, or before the utilities - water, sewer, hydro etc are cut off, you have to wonder about the government employees living in relative comfort, vacations, benefits, etc.

Doug, I think you know what I'm talking about. What exactly did you do for a living?

But if you insist that they're not entitled to their homes, then I hope those retired civil servants enjoy their retirement with their "entitled" fatcat pensions and benefits.

12/11/2013 3:19:13 PM
iceman says:
If you raise taxes to high you do not attrack industry, if you lower taxes you can't pay the bills. You have to find the balance. I suspect the balance is where MPAC has put it. This would be competitive with other cities
12/10/2013 8:29:05 AM
sky high says:
Mr. Squitti, wrong again! A lot of people inherit their houses or money to buy them; while having a low paying job. Should the rest of us pay more while the lucky beneficiaries sit back and smile? Think before posting please mister Squitti
12/10/2013 1:17:19 PM
Slyder says:
A pension is a safety net to make sure you have money for necessities when you don't work any longer. If you want more then that, you should be saving during your working years. With a moderate sized house, and two well used vechiles, you should be able to live quite comfortablely on 2-3k a month including taxes, food, utilities, clothing, kids activities, etc.. That's 24k to 36k net a year. Two people with moderate income jobs are pulling in like 60k net. A pension is great, but save your own money and stop living outside your means.
12/10/2013 1:45:55 PM
lori says:
Mr. Myers, normally anyone that disagrees with YQTYQT is a friend of mine but on this one, I am not sure i agree with you. Simply because the pensioner cannot afford the taxes does not automatically mean your conclusion is valid. it happened in Toronto where home values sky rocketed. The taxes on those homes went up exponentially. They weren't necessarily large homes. when you have a large increase in value, like is happening in T.Bay, the cost of utilities has not gone up the same, except for water which continues to sky rocket.

That is why most tax increases are phased in. I think your conclusion needs a little work. As for Slyder, there is a large difference between 2 or 3 K a month, but I do agree people should have saved more during those working years and taken more responsibility for their retirement years.

As for this. The bill is coming. We are all going to pay, that's for sure.
12/11/2013 8:12:59 AM
yqtyqt says:
Well I'm sure that Lori needs any friend she can find on this site, but don't count me in as one. Other than the other names she posts under.

The underlying problem is government spending... at all levels. Make no mistake. All utility rates have gone up as well as taxes, only a fool would believe otherwise. Did I mention Lori's name.

Didn't Daltons energy minister just state that rates are going up at 5 times the rate of inflation. And that the gas fired screw ups only amount to a few dollars a year.

Did he also say that the tooth fairy @ santa clause are for real? Did he also say that McGuinty?Wynne are misunderstood and being wrongfully targeted for their statements?
12/11/2013 3:41:21 PM
S Duncan says:
Taxes are to be paid for services to the tax payer. We have crossed the line where unelected people have taken tax dollars as a means of personal empire building.

Tax dollars should not be used so some people can petend to run a corporation without accounability to the share holders. If you look at the situation in Thunder Bay this is what has happened.

We have the misuse of tax dollars and the funding of many organizations who continuously tell us how important they are. They fear monger us into funding them claiming people will turn to crime if we dont give them more money which only further hurts those they profess to be helping.

We have extreme cronyism where all of the cronies are more focused on increasing the flow of money to them and then hiring more people underneath themselves so they can move higher up the pyramid.

Look at that smirking face above, what you see is an Amway salesman at the top of the pyramid.

This behaviour must be stopped.
12/11/2013 11:48:58 AM
progress now says:
This is a view that one hears more and more in this community.
12/11/2013 3:29:06 PM
yqtyqt says:
Just remember that on election day. Encourage everyone to be informed at the federal, provincial and municipal levels. These issues are extremely important.

Change can only happen if voters want it to happen
12/12/2013 10:00:50 AM
rock49 says:
I have to agree with DougMyers. I only pay about 1600/year for my small house and that's fine by me. If you can afford a more expensive house, along with the more expensive upkeep and utilities, then you can afford to pay more property taxes. Secondly, you technically don't own anything in this town. The property taxes that you pay each year are nothing more than rent to the Corporation of the City of Thunder Bay. If you don' t pay your taxes for 3 years, you're OUT. As for council spending, election time is the only time that you can influence the short term future of out city. That's it. That is your only chance change the direction of the corporation. And based on the last election, most people were happy with the previous councilors, including myself. They are making this city move forward, as hard may it may be for them. There's nothing wrong with people on these posts trying to keep our politicians honest, but running down every advancement to help our city will only destroy us.
12/12/2013 7:18:39 PM
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