By Darren Lum
Dysart et al is looking to keep its ratepayers with the lowest tax rate in Haliburton County after reaching a proposed municipal tax levy of 5.5 per cent following a meeting to discuss the second draft of the budget, held virtually on Friday. Jan. 14.
This latest proposed tax rate is a reduction from the 7.56 per cent increase initially proposed after the first draft was discussed.
Dysart et al treasurer Barbara Swannell wrote in an email this reduction was from a combination of an increase to revenue by $129,107 due to provincial grants and user fees, a decrease to expenses by $42,691 due to projected lower municipal operating costs, and a decrease to capital projects by $40,000 due to completion of capital projects ahead of schedule.
The increase translates to $16.35 more on an assessment for a $100,000 residential property, $24.24 per $100,000 for commercial property and $28.09 per $100,000 for industrial property.
During the meeting, Swanell told council that Dysart residents pay the lowest tax rate compared to other municipalities. She cited 2021 data where the cost per $100,000 worth of assessment for a residential property in Dysart was $297.44. This is close to 12 per cent less than the Municipality of Algonquin, close to 29 per cent less than the Township of Minden Hills and close to 70 per cent less than the Municipality of Highlands East.
The tax base is composed of 95 per cent residential and the remaining five per cent commercial/industrial.
Swannell said residents in Dysart et al not only pay the lowest tax rate, but get the best value of all the municipalities for what they pay.
Dysart et al, she said, represents under 40 per cent of the assessment for all of Haliburton County.
“So we are responsible for many services and we have the lowest tax rate and our dollar is working harder for our ratepayers,” she said.
Swannell recognizes the levy in Dysart has been going up the last five years.
“However, our assessment base has also increased a per cent over that time frame as well. Which, again, looking at more people moving to the area and that requires more services for our ratepayers,” she said.
Swannell said the majority of the tax dollars go to environment, transportation and protection.
“So, those three areas that are absorbing 74 per cent of the municipal budget,” she said.
Councillor Larry Clarke asked about what the assessment rate was based on and wondered if the current real estate values, which have seen significant increases over the past few years, are factored at all. Swannell said, no, it was based on the 2016 CVA (current value assessment).
After the meeting, Swannell wrote in an email, “the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) is responsible for assessing and classifying all properties in Ontario in compliance with the Assessment Act and regulations set by the government of Ontario. In Ontario, property assessments are updated on the basis of a four-year assessment cycle. In 2016, MPAC updated the assessed values of Ontario’s more than five million properties to reflect the legislated valuation date of Jan. 1, 2016. Assessments updated for the 2016 base year were in effect for the 2017-2020 property tax years. The 2016 CVA has since been extended to the 2021, 2022 and 2023 property tax years.”
Dysart et al Mayor Andrea Roberts clarified at the outset of the meeting that at this stage nothing is definite.
“There is no rush to come to a final number or final decisions today. Today is, let’s call it debate, or [for]more further questions or for the recommendations,” she said.
Council will continue to discuss the third draft of the budget at a February meeting.