This chart (reportedly prepared by Ted Walker CAO of Penetanguishene and former CAO of Midland) seems to indicate that Midland is actually doing quite a good job at keeping our taxes per household low in Simcoe County. If the numbers are what they appear to be, perhaps we stop the fire-sale of our PUC, reconsider reducing services at our recreational facilities, stop “retiring” our most experienced human resources and making our community less than attractive to investment. Statistics can easily be manipulated to defend almost any position. You read these, then read others and decide whether Midland is truly “circling the bowl”.
Watch the short video at the top of the page created by the Niagara Region in Ontario and published by the City of London to help explain the relationship between property value and property taxes.
How is Property Tax Determined?
A number of factors go into determining your yearly property tax rate:
- The annual budget for Town & County services; which includes things like funding Police, Fire and Ambulance Service, Roads, Sidewalks, Transit, Parks, Trails, Museums, Recreation Centres, Libraries, and all Town programs and services;
- Provincial taxes (to fund education);
- Your property value which is assessed every four years by MPAC.
Many factors go into the taxes assessed for each home and in speaking with some quasi-experts in the field but outside of Midland, it seems that our unusually low assessed values of our higher-end homes plays a key role in higher overall taxes.
It is actually quite complicated, but outside experts seem to think that many of our luxury homes are assessed far lower (by MPAC) than they should have been and so the wealthy are paying less than their fair share while the middle class are paying more. Sounds about right doesn’t it?
Now, I don’t relish paying more property tax than I have to, but if the assessed values are too low, then the difference has to be made up elsewhere by everyone else. A person living in a home that is worth a million+ dollars (there are many of them in town folks) who has either fought a high assessment to get it lowered or simply had an incorrectly low value assessed is being subsidized by those who have 120-500k homes (which is the majority).
This makes comparing equally-valued properties in other communities very misleading since those “values” are subject to wide variations which skews any attempt to normalize the calculation. A fully serviced 1800 Sq/ft home by the same builder with the same layouts and finish (inside and out) should be the same value in Midland and in Collingwood (the land on which the home sits may be more or less valuable depending on location). If that were so, then it would be easy to compare. But, that is not the way it works. So look at the numbers one way, we have a high tax rate, look at it the other way, we are low by comparison.
There are other issues like education, water, waste and other services but the assessment values seem to be Midland’s largest single contributor to higher taxes. A well-serviced community is not cheap to administer. We have seen cuts after more cuts and no real reduction in taxes… in fact they have increased. So, maybe the problem is not that we pay too much tax, maybe some of our wealthy residents don’t pay enough? Maybe those who can afford to pay more, should be paying more to keep the community they chose to live in served – even if they choose not to avail themselves of those services. What can we do to make sure assessed property values are realistic and fair across the board?
Have a look at the spin that has been put on the statistics we’ve all heard and read about for more than two years from another community publication and draw your own conclusions – numbers, charts and graphs can be easily manipulated to make one’s point… http://midlandcommunity.ca/midland-taxes-are-highest/
Are we really as bad off as we are led to believe? Weigh in below in the comment section. Many of our readers have educated opinions on these matters and we invite input. Town hall has done a poor job at explaining where we are and how we got here. To be fair to our Mayor and Council, it’s easy to find someplace else that is better off than here so maybe we don’t need to be so fixated on taxes and spread our efforts around efficiencies that don’t impact the high calibre of services that we enjoy in our community and that don’t result in the wholesale divestment of our resources and assets.
Review this PDF we found online that highlights the differences between communities: