Friday, May 29, 2009

2009 Final Tax Rates & Property Assessments

You may recall that in January, I wrote here about how Market Value Assessment was only one half of the property tax equation. I explained then that the amount of property tax 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.

Further, I suggested that you “stay tuned” until all three entities set their final tax rates.

Well, during our regular meeting last week, Council approved the 2009 Final Tax Rates. Despite Pelham Council approving our budget in February, we were not able to adopt these final rates until now – that is until after the Niagara Region and the Ontario Ministry of Education set their final rates.

Your Assessment:
Your assessment is solely set by MPAC. The Town and the Region cannot change any element of this assessment. It is mandated by the Province, who has established a separate corporation – MPAC – to administer it.

In Pelham, the average residential property increased by 5.78%. Does that mean that your taxes went up by that amount? No. Because your property tax depends on both your assessment and the tax rate.

Property Taxes = Assessment X Total Tax Rate

Tax Rate:
Your tax rate is set by the Town, the Region, and the Province (for the Education portion). Here are the final rates for 2009.

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.

So what happened to your assessment and your tax rate?
The average residential property in Pelham had a market value assessment of $235,000 for the 2008 tax year. For the 2009 tax year, that increased by 5.78% to an average of $248,583.

At the same time, the Pelham tax rate decreased by 3.9%. Therefore, the Pelham portion of your residential property taxes increased by 1.7%.

When homeowners received their property reassessments in the fall, some worried that Pelham might take advantage of the increased assessment to hike property taxes. Instead, quite the opposite occurred.

I hope you will be pleased to know that the final property tax increase of 1.7% is the second lowest increase in Niagara Region this year!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Inaugural Mayor’s Gala Promotes Pelham

As you may have heard, the Inaugural Pelham Mayor’s Gala was an overwhelming success! Because of the generosity of local sponsors, the sold-out event netted $21,700 for Project Pelham Cares.

As participants arrived, Peninsula Lakes Golf Course staff shuttled them to the Clubhouse door courtesy of Central Golf Cart Services. Inside, all were welcomed by the wonderful music of Pelham’s own Glissandi – classical harp and violin courtesy Deborah & David Braun. The wine tasting was courtesy Niagara College Winery, the Seafood Appetizers were sponsored by Accipiter Radar Technologies, and the Hors D’oeuvres by Canadian Tire Financial Services.

Angela Carter, whom you may recall as volunteer chair of the 2007-08 United Way campaign, emceed the evening. She welcomed the Shatford Family to perform the National Anthem a cappella; they later performed “Working in our Town” about Pelham Cares based on the Carter Family classic “In the Highways.” Tim Hartwick, of Personal Touch Home Improvements, offered the blessing.

It was then my honour to bring greetings to the nearly 200 gala participants. I thanked the sponsors and silent auction donors for their generosity, and encouraged all to generously support the event. I also acknowledged those elected members of our community present including Malcolm Allen, Welland Riding MP (and former Pelham Councillor); Peter Partington, Regional Chairman; Brian Baty, Pelham Regional Councillor; Welland Mayor Damian Goulbourne; Dave Emmons, Pelham Deputy Mayor & Councillor; Peter Papp, Pelham Councillor; and Jim Lane, Pelham Councillor. I also thanked the Gala Committee – Jean Bancroft, Ian Hamilton, Carolyn Mullin, John Nicol, Paul Winkler, and Jordan Arcaro – for their dedication and significant work.

Then Gail Hilyer, President of Pelham Cares, expressed her appreciation and spoke about the ongoing commitment of Pelham Cares to support the most vulnerable. She also explained the dire need for a more permanent home for Pelham Care’s services.

Just as the sun set over Pelham’s short-hills, all enjoyed the exquisite buffet dinner which was sponsored by Meridian Credit Union, Lafarge, and the Planning Partnership. Later we delighted in dessert courtesy of Indulgence. Finally, after the silent auction and raffle, Introduction, a Pelham-based band that was sponsored by Walker Industries, entertained the crowd.

As you can imagine, it is gratifying to host such a signature event that not only raised funds to support Pelham Cares, but that also showcased some of the best specialty services, businesses, and entertainment serving Pelham. Thank you to all participants and donors for your generosity.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Shared Investments in Pelham?

The last couple of weeks have been especially busy in the "municipal world." On April 15th we received word from the Honourable John Baird, Federal Minister of
Transport, Infrastructure & Communities, and the Honourable George
Smitherman, Ontario's Deputy Premier and Minister of Energy &
Infrastructure, that they would receive applications for infrastructure stimulus funding until Friday, May 1st.

As you may know, under the Canada / Ontario Infrastructure Stimulus Fund, all three levels of government contribute one-third of the total eligible project cost as long as the approved project can be fully completed by March 31, 2011. This funding will not only provide much-needed stimulus to the economy, it is also intended to help municipal governments meet our infrastructure needs.

So, for which projects has Pelham applied, you ask?

First, under the Building Canada Communities Component (communities under 100,000), we applied for a shared investment in the reconstruction of Haist Street. As one of Pelham’s most used collector roads, two kilometers of Haist Street from Canboro to Welland Road desperately requires reconstruction. Not only have the road and sidewalks deteriorated significantly, the water and waste water systems need upgrading.

The $5.71 million reconstruction will rehabilitate sidewalks and create a more efficient road system that includes bicycle lanes, improved sightlines, and traffic calming measures. The replacement of the cast iron watermains will improve water system resiliency and the project will dramatically improve the control of storm water. Federal and Provincial funding will allow this multi-phase, multi-year project to be dramatically accelerated and completed by December 2010.

Second, the Town applied for $2.32 million to revitalize Fenwick’s Downtown Core. You will recall that we were declined funding for this project in the fall because it was seen as a separate project to Fonthill’s downtown revitalization. Now, we are proposing similar urban design improvements which will calm traffic, protect heritage streetscapes, widen sidewalks with safe crossings at key areas, and provide decorative lighting.

Third, we applied for a $2.97 million replacement of Pelham Fire Station #2. Based on a complete functional analysis, the replacement firehall will provide sufficient space to park and work safely around the department’s equipment, a bunker gear storage area, and sufficient rooms for hands-on training and fire-related meetings / events.

Finally, the Town applied for $1.25 million to replace the Maple Acre Library Branch. Based on current usage and growth estimates for the Town and using a functional analysis, this replacement, rural-village branch library will provide much-needed, fully accessible space for library resources, programs, and community development.

We await word from the Federal and Provincial governments on these shared investment projects to improve our Town.