Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Stay Tuned on Tax Rates and Property Assessments

You may recall that in October, just prior to the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) sending out its Market Value Assessment notices, I wrote about how Market Value Assessment is only one half of the property tax equation.

I wrote then that the amount you pay to the Town of Pelham, to the Region, and to the Province for Education is based on the Market Value Assessment of your property multiplied by the tax rates.

Your Property Taxes = Your Assessment X Tax Rate

Your Assessment:
Your assessment is solely set by MPAC. The Town and the Region cannot change any element of this assessment process. It is mandated by the Province, who has established a separate corporation – MPAC – to administer it. If you think your assessment is incorrect, please contact MPAC directly and ask for a Request for Reconsideration; you have until March 31, 2009 to request this.

Tax Rate:
Your tax rate is set by the Town, the Region, and the Province (for the Education portion).

2008 Rate % of Total
Pelham: 0.005085950 = 33.3% of total
Region: 0.007547470 = 49.4%
Education: 0.002640000 = 17.3%
Total: 0.015273420

Municipalities set the tax rate based on the total assessment for each of the tax classes – residential, multi-residential, commercial, industrial, farm/managed forest, pipelines.

Just because your Assessment increased by 32% over four years, it does not follow that your property taxes will increase by 32%. In the same way, it does not mean – as one Pelham resident thought when her assessed value increased by $25,000 each year for four years – that you must pay the Town the annual increase in assessment listed on the notice you received.

What happened last time?
As you may recall, this is not the first time that all classes of properties have been re-valuated. Your property taxes for 2006, 2007, and 2008 were calculated on the value of your property on January 1, 2005. Your 2004 and 2005 taxes were based on the value set by MPAC for your property on June 30, 2003; your 2003 was based on the value on June 30, 2001.

The last time this re-valuation occurred, Pelham residential assessments increased an average of 16.98%.

What happened to the Pelham residential tax rate? It actually decreased by 9.7% from 0.005131980 to 0.004632850.

If your assessment increase was average, that change in effect meant the previous Council increased Pelham taxes by 5.6% in 2006.

What about this Council? We are still working our way through our 2009 budget process. Stay tuned for the net effects!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

More Snow, Please

Most people I have spoken to lately are starting to begrudge our winter. It’s either too cold, or too snowy. Or the temperature fluctuates too quickly – from -15 up to +10 degrees Celsius in a matter of days. Oh, and don’t forget about the freezing rain and high winds.

Do you even remember the number of times you have shoveled snow this winter?

Because of the record number of storms and amount of fluffy white stuff that has fallen this winter, keeping the roads clear has been a challenge. I have heard many complaints especially from folks living in the cul-de-sacs and near “bulbs” along some roads. (At the same time, however, I have heard very many compliments for the timely and superior service – especially when compared to other municipalities!)

Despite all this negativity, however, have you asked any kids about the winter?

As our kids woke us up on Saturday morning, I looked out the window and said with distain, “It’s snowing, again.” Both our kids yelled “Great! Can we go outside?!”

They love the snow. They love building snow forts and making snowmen. They love tobogganing and jumping in the drifts.

Snow is still a novelty for them.

I was reminded of this at a special hockey game this weekend. You see, for a third year in-a-row, a Pelham Alabama team has played in the International AE Silver Stick finals. This year, the event organizers pre-booked a game between our Pelham Panthers and the Alabama Pelham Panthers. It was held Saturday at the Pelham Arena and I had the honour of dropping the ceremonial first puck.

But, after the game, what did the Alabama Panthers really want to do? Go tobogganing! Why? Because they don’t get snow in Alabama and it’s a treat for them. I offer kudos to our coaches and parents who arranged the tobogganing excursion to Marlene Stewart-Streit Park, including the hot chocolate and goodies.

Similarly, our family couldn’t resist the beautiful sunshine this past Sunday. And so, despite the cold, we cleared a family pond and skated for most of the afternoon. It was such a great experience that our six-year-old daughter is planning a skating party next weekend. And, you know she is hoping for both more snow and better ice.

It’s good to sometimes be reminded of the novel things in life – even if it is snow and ice.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

How Can We Improve the Local Economy?

From what I am reading in the media and hearing directly from people, many folks suggest that their most important challenge for 2009 will be the economy.

You may be or know of someone who has been laid-off or directly affected by the credit crisis. For others, the economy and negative talk around it appears more like a blackening thundercloud.

If so, what can we do to help improve the economy? What can the Town and the Region do?

Buy Local:

Especially during difficult times, it is important to support local businesses. Small business owners and employees are not only our neighbours and friends, but they also support the community’s sports teams, public events, local media, and new initiatives. Local businesses are the backbone of any community.

That’s why I am proud that the Town recently established a free Business Directly for all Pelham’s businesses. Developed in collaboration with the Chamber of Commerce and the Pelham Business Association, the Directory is available on the Town’s website at It is easy to use since you can search it either by business name or by category.

Improve Existing Businesses:
Instead of only focusing on attracting new ventures to Niagara, what about working to improve existing businesses? The Chamber of Commerce and I recently established a Pelham Corporate Visitation program. Through site visits and meetings, we will be working with local businesses to help determine what the Chamber and/or the Town can do to assist them – give additional information, make connections, advocate on their behalf with other orders of governments, etc.

Invest in Infrastructure:

A recent national study uncovered that $1 billion dollars invested in upgrading infrastructure public would produce more jobs and a better economic stimulus that a $2-billion tax reduction.

That’s why I have been pushing so hard at the Region to speed-up capital spending – roads and bridges, water mains and sewer lines. In fact, I am part of a small Regional committee working to accelerate the spending of the $120 million 2009 capital budget and of all outstanding projects that were taxed in previous years (like Hwy #20).

Similarly, the Town continues to focus on the Building Canada grant – to secure Federal and Provincial funds for revitalization of our downtowns. Would you believe that the $7.1 million of joint spending could generate 100 local jobs?

Working Together:
Pelham has a rich history of neighbours helping neighbours. If the economy worsens, let’s band together again for the benefit of all.