Sault Ste. Marie avoids property tax increase
Budgets have all been passed and now property tax bills are being printed across northeastern Ontario — and one city is getting a tax hike holiday.
The average home owner in Sault Ste. Marie will pay $2,620.20 in property tax this year, which is the same as last year.
Mayor Debbie Amaroso said nothing was cut from the budget, however the city brought in a little extra in taxes last year and decided put it onto the tax rate instead of in the bank.
Hitting zero wasn't about appeasing voters ahead of this fall's election, Amaroso said.
"I don't believe this was an election-year budget,” she said. “I think this was a prudent and reasonable budget."
But Sudbury city councillor Terry Kett said it does seem like a pre-election move.
"If it sounds like a duck, quacks like a duck, I think it's a duck."
While voters might like the sound of a zero per cent budget, it often means less money saved for the future, Kett said.
The years of zero budgets in Sudbury through the 1990s left the city with a long to-do list of infrastructure repairs, he argued.
"People remember that and they say 'Don't go there again and, to our credit, we haven't."
While Sudbury's 2.9 per cent tax hike seems hefty, the city's tax rate is still one of the lowest in Ontario, Kett said.
Lack of housing drives up Timmins taxes
In Timmins, a housing shortage is affecting the city’s property tax bills.
Timmins has been dealing with a shortage of new homes and apartments, and city council has been trying to attract real estate developers to make sure Timmins grows along with the gold mining industry.
Mayor Tom Laughren said the shortage has also driven up the value of houses—and how much the owners pay in tax.
"Companies are looking for miners and others and obviously there's very little housing on the market and it drives the price up, which again drives your assessment up," he said.
Council has adjusted tax rates to account for rising property assessments, Laughren noted. Without that move, this year's three per cent tax hike could have been doubled, he said.