Thunder Bay·Audio

MPAC industrial, commercial re-assessments vex tax collectors

A challenge Thunder Bay city hall is facing over requests for reduced industrial and commercial assessment is resonating in some communities in the region.

Push by businesses for reduced taxes could translate into raised property taxes for homeowners

Thunder Bay's city budget will be under even more pressure in the coming year - after the city will collect a million dollars less in taxes. City Manager Tim Commisso says some major retailers are now hoping to get their property taxes brought down. 4:32
A challenge Thunder Bay city hall is facing over requests for reduced industrial and commercial assessment is resonating in some communities in the region.

The mayor of Dryden said reassessments being granted by the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation will hurt each town's bottom line.

Lowering the value of businesses in his community, like Canadian Tire and Tim Hortons, is going a step too far, Craig Nuttall said.

Dryden Mayor Craig Nuttall. (Supplied)
"We rely on the tax dollars coming in. And, if MPAC reassesses different things, we're really going to be in serious problems."

Dryden is still waiting for a few years of tax payments from the local mill.

Thunder Bay could lose up to $1 million in taxes this year — and some retailers are asking for reviews of their assessment as well.

City manager Tim Commisso said the city is riding a roller coaster when it comes to figuring out how much tax it will collect from industry.

Thunder Bay city manager Tim Commisso. (CBC)
"What we have left in large industrial, is all under appeal for the most part. And, we don't have confidence that it will hold."

Commisso said MPAC may assess a value to a particular property, will shortly after re-assess the property, and then side with the property owner to drop the property's value. 

The city also has to deal with another looming problem: some big retailers want to pay less in property tax.

"I understand that they all have submitted appeals, the big box stores. I understand Walmart pulled back,” Commisso said.

“Provincewide ... they're all looking. They all want to be under reassessment. They all want to go through appeal process.”

Commisso said the companies hire specialized tax accountants and lawyers to help make the appeals.

Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce president Charla Robinson said they too are “aware that there are other businesses that are either considering appealing their tax assessments or are starting to proceed with tax assessment reviews."

Robinson said the push by businesses for reduced taxes will have an effect on the broader community.

Commisso noted that could mean an increase in property taxes for homeowners.

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