Assessments increase, farmland almost 50 percent

 

Chances are when residential property owners in South Dundas opened their mail from the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) this week, they learned that their property values have increased since the last assessment in 2008.

Not surprising as the trend is the same across the province of Ontario, which shows an average increase in residential property values of about 18 percent. Narrowing the scope to Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry residential property values have increased a little more at 18.4 percent,  and in South Dundas alone, that average increase is 19.53 percent.

All increases will be phased in over four years.

Waterfront residential properties are still showing increases, but after the huge assessment increases in 2008, the increases this time are much more moderate at about 17 percent across the province. The smaller increase is due to reduced demand.

Property assessment values on farmland have taken a huge jump since 2008. Looking at the entire province, the average assessment increase on farmland is listed at about 34 percent, but that average is much higher when looking at the local picture. Looking at all of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry the average increase on farmland is a whopping 71.9 percent. Narrowing the scope to South Dundas, that average assessment increase on farmland is 49.92 percent.

Property assessment values are based on recent property sales, and with farmland, based solely on area farmer-to-farmer sales. As a result, the farming community has likely seen this assessment increase coming because they know better than most that farmland is in high demand and selling prices reflect that demand.

In a community with such a large agricultural base as South Dundas, one may think that these huge assessment increases will amount to a huge financial boon for the municipality, but the impact of these increases will be relatively small.

Although there are many variables that could affect the overall number, South Dundas treasurer Shannon Geraghty estimates that the overall increase in farmland assessments will mean additional tax revenue for South Dundas of just over $35,000 in 2013, the first year of the four year phase in.

Although farmland occupies a significant portion of the South Dundas landscape, properties classified as farmland presently account for less than five percent of the $4.9 million worth of taxes levied on South Dundas property owners.

It is provincially mandated that the farmland tax rate be one quarter of the residential rate. On a farm, the home and one acre of land are taxed at the regular residential rate. The remainder is taxed at the reduced rate.

The bulk of the tax burden in South Dundas falls on residential property owners, who carry 72 percent of the tax load. Other property tax classes including commercial, industrial, multi-residential and special/exempt are seeing very small increases in property values of about three to five percent.

In South Dundas commercial property taxes cover about 12 percent of the total levy, industrial and multi-residential carry about three percent of the burden and other categories such as pipeline and managed forest and others together carry about 10 percent of the tax load.

MPAC assesses all property in Ontario every four years. “The assessments provide the foundation on which municipalities across Ontario base property taxes. It is the accuracy of MPAC’s assessments that help ensure property owners pay their fair share of property taxes and nothing more,” reads their Market Snapshot document.

An increase  in assessment does not necessarily mean an increase in property taxes.

If the assessed value has increased more than the municipal average, an increase in taxes is likely. However if the increase is less than the municipal average a decrease in taxes should result.

In a recent media release, Michel Contant, account manager in the Cornwall MPAC office said, “MPAC’s role is to accurately assess every property in Ontario. Property owners should ask themselves if they could have sold their property for its assessed value on January 1, 2012. If the answer is yes, then their assessment is accurate. If not, we are committed to working with them to get it right.”

Property owners can check the accuracy of their assessment at www.aboutmyproperty.ca. 

This website allows owners to easily compare the value of their property to others in their neighbourhood and community. Registration information is included with every notice mailed out this fall.

If property owners believe their assessment is not correct, they have the option of filing a request for reconsideration and MPAC will review their assessment free of charge.

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