Tbnewswatch Local News
2014-01-24 at 4:48PM

No relief

Jamie Smith, tbnewswatch.com
By Jamie Smith, tbnewswatch.com

The city won't be seeing any of the $59 million the province is giving to Northern towns hit by mill reassessments.

A small number of communities hard hit by pulp and paper mill reassessments will be getting one-time funding from the province. Towns like Dryden, which saw the assessed value of the Domtar mill drop more than 70 per cent, will see a substantial amount of money although mayor Craig Nuttall wouldn't confirm the dollar figure.

Thunder Bay city manager Tim Commisso said he and other officials fought hard to get the same assistance, but were told the city's diversity and the size of its tax base made it ineligible.

"I think they were pretty clear about that," Commisso said.

Mayor Keith Hobbs said he was disappointed with the decision.

"You can't treat one municipality different than another on this issue I feel," he said.
But he supports those towns that did qualify.

"Anything that's good for this region is going to benefit Thunder Bay," he said.

Resolute Forest products is looking to get the assessment on its Thunder Bay mill dropped by $40 million. An assessment review board hearing between the city and Resolute was set to begin on Monday but the chair has asked for a four-month delay while it awaits decisions in other appeals.

At issue is the way the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation has chosen to assess mills. Commisso said assessments are now tied to production output, which doesn't make any sense.

"The model is flawed," he said.

Mayor Keith Hobbs said it would be similar to a family with a three-bedroom home asking for a tax assessment to be based on a one-bedroom home after the children move out.
"Where do you draw the line? It's just a ridiculous comparison," he said.

If the mill is reassessed it could cost the city millions of dollars. Places like Dryden recently raised its industrial tax rate by 15 per cent, something that Hobbs doesn't rule out for Thunder Bay if necessary.

"That's definitely on the radar," he said. "We may have to go there and I don't have a problem with that."

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