Support building for Mapleton resolution on farm tax program

MAPLETON – A resolution from Mapleton Township calling for the province to review the Farm Property Class Tax Rate Program – in light of economic competitiveness concerns between rural and urban municipalities – is receiving support from more municipalities.

Letters in support of the Mapleton resolution were received at the May 26 council meeting from Alnwick-Haldimand, Howick, North Middlesex, Harley, Casey, Callander, South Bruce and Dutton Dunwich.

The letters are in addition to several letters of support received at previous meetings.

On March 10 Mapleton passed the resolution due to long-standing concerns from rural municipalities about the impact of the farm tax rebate system on their local tax base.

Prior to 1998, properties assessed as farmland paid 100% of their assessed tax, then filed an application with the province to receive a 75% rebate, paid directly by the province.

Since 1998, farmland has a tax ratio of 25%, meaning farmers pay property tax on only 25% of the assessed value of their property. That means costs that were once shared province-wide now fall on the non-farm municipal tax base.

Originally the province offset the change with grants through programs like the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund (OMPF), but cuts to the programs over the years have left municipalities’ dependant on intermittent application-based provincial funding programs for much of their infrastructure funding.

“There are a number of communities that have put in their letter of support … and we’ve got to thank them for doing so,” said Mayor Gregg Davidson.

However, he noted, “I’ve yet to see … anybody from the county, our towns and townships in the county.”

Davidson asked clerk Barb Schellenberger if she could contact Wellington County municipalities “to get them online with the support of this.”

“It’s not a problem to recirculate the resolution,” Schellenberger responded.

“I just know when we released this, of course, COVID hit and that’s made a big impact on what communities are doing,” Davidson pointed out.

In addition to the letters from municipalities, Perth-Wellington MPP Randy Pettapiece provided council with a copy of a letter he sent to Minister of Finance Rod Phillips asking him to “carefully review the township’s resolution.”

“Ever since I was first elected in 2011, small and rural municipalities have raised persistent concerns regarding the province’s Farm Property Tax Class Rate Program,” Pettapiece noted in his letter to the minister.