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Minto councillors not pleased with social housing tax exemption

by Patrick Raftis

MINTO - Some Minto councillors were not pleased to learn the local municipality will lose assessment due to Wellington County’s decision to exempt all county-owned social and affordable housing units from property tax rolls.

All social and affordable housing facilities in Wellington and Guelph are currently required to pay municipal and education property taxes.

However, in 2012 the City of Toronto received permission from the province to adopt a bylaw exempting all municipally-owned social housing properties from property taxes, provided the education component of the taxes is invested in future capital repairs of the housing stock.

Since then, other municipalities have adopted similar bylaws to exempt their municipal capital facilities.

Wellington County council opted to create an exemption in a bylaw passed at its Sept. 13 meeting.

By providing the exemption, just under $2.1 million in property tax expense will be removed from the county’s 2018 budget.

Of this amount, $1.8 million is for municipal purposes and is a wash from the county’s perspective, except $192,300 that would have been provided to the province in education revenue can instead be used for future capital repairs.

The net impact to the county is estimated to be a savings of about $162,000.

However, county estimates indicate the elimination of property tax on county-owned social and affordable housing units has a net negative impact of $39,022 for Minto, $33,430 for Wellington North and $2,747 for Centre Wellington.

“The municipalities that are affected are the municipalities that have affordable housing in their municipalities,” explained Ward 1 county councillor David Anderson at the Nov. 21 Minto council meeting.  

“So you notice that Minto, Wellington North and Centre Wellington are affected the most; Minto having the more affordable housing units on it. Basically what that does is it affects your net impact, your assessment value by about $39,000 … about one per cent of the budget.”

Anderson added, “So in the big picture that’s the downfall for the Town of Minto, but in the larger picture the savings will be reinvested in the affordable housing.

“It affects your base a little bit ... It’s a temporary hit for you guys but there’s other investments for the Town of Minto from the county that come forward … that your going to recoup that in other ways.”

Deputy mayor Ron Faulkner, who chaired the meeting in the absence of Mayor George Bridge, said,  “I have issues with process.

“It would have been nice for Minto council, in my opinion, to have received information that the county was going to discuss this bylaw because it does affect us.

“And every time something comes along, guess what, Town of Minto budget is the one that gets hit. So I’ve got a problem with process that the Town of Minto or other municipalities did not have a chance to give input ... on that bylaw and I would like that message to be taken back because we should be, because it’s going to cost us one per cent.”

Anderson agreed he would take the input back to county council. He also noted the county did have a meeting with lower tier treasurers to advise them of the change, “but it was after the fact.”

“That’s fine, but it’s not the council,” Faulkner replied.

Town councillor Jean Anderson pointed out while Minto benefits from county investments in programs like social housing and day care, other municipalities also receive those same benefits.  

“It’s still a one per cent hit and it will impact our budget decisions,” she stated.

 

December 1, 2017

 
 

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