Thunder Bay

MPAC reassessment process to be improved, Dryden mayor says

A northwestern Ontario mayor said he expects to see improvements to how industrial and commercial properties are valued by the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation.

Reassessments of industrial, commercial properties cost municipalities millions in lost tax revenues

Dryden Mayor Craig Nuttall, who has been at odds with the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation over recent reassessment of industrial and commercial properties, says improvements are coming to the process. (Matt Prokopchuk/CBC)

A northwestern Ontario mayor said he expects to see improvements to how industrial and commercial properties are valued by the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation.

Dryden Mayor Craig Nuttall, along with other northern municipal leaders including some from Thunder Bay, have been at odds with MPAC over recent reassessments. The mayors said the formula that MPAC uses for the reassessments is flawed, and they have been lobbying the province to change the rules governing MPAC.

The province said in 2014 that it would review the corporation.

The corporation has devalued a number of mill properties, resulting in millions of dollars less in taxes for several municipalities.

The issue is also spreading to other parts of the province, Nuttall said.

"It affects us more here up north than it does down in southern Ontario," he said. "But right now southern Ontario's getting kicked in the so-called by things like, for instance in Windsor, with plants closing."

But communication with MPAC officials has improved significantly, Nuttall said. He has also heard from MPAC on changes to the assessment process, which could come as early as next year.

"How they assess pulp mills and businesses will be looked at and I think it's great,"he said. "I've seen it."

Nuttall added, however, that his community still hasn't reached an agreement over taxes owed on the mill in Dryden.

'More upheavals'

The impact of MPAC's reassessment is also being felt in Terrace Bay. The mill in the community has been reassessed three of the last four times, reducing its value by 30 to 50 per cent each time, according to Mayor Jody Davis.

Jody Davis, mayor of another northern community, said his township had to reduce or eliminate municipal services to cope with the loss in tax revenues due to MPAC reassessments. (Matt Prokopchuk/CBC)

The reassessments translate to significant financial loss for the community: the mill was paying about $3 million a year in taxes eight years ago. Today, it's down to just 1 million.

Davis said the township had to reduce or eliminate municipal services to cope with the loss in revenue.

Davis echoed Nuttall's sentiment that MPAC has been better at listening to the municipalities' concerns, but he is less certain about whether changes will come.

"The exact change that is required to protect the municipalities and ensure us smooth sailing going forward has not changed, so we can continue to see, at this moment, more upheavals in the way we do business, and the municipalities face much more uncertainty."

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.