Jeff Green | Jul 28, 2005
Feature article, July 28, 2005
Feature article July 28, 2005LAND O' LAKES NewsWeb Home
A life WRAFT for beleaguered waterfront ratepayers
by Jeff Green
Not long ago a group called Waterfront Ratepayers After Fair Taxation (WRAFT) was formed. A coalition of waterfront associations, WRAFT started in the Muskoka region but has expanded throughout the Province, and has member Associations in Eastern Ontario.
The group formed in response to the advent of Current Value assessment in Ontario and the resulting large annual increases for waterfront property owners in the past few years.
After considering different Current Value Property Tax systems throughout North America, WRAFT submitted a proposal to the Ministry of Finance this past spring. The proposal called for two changes to the property assessment system. First, it advocates capping assessment increases each year so huge increases in taxes on an individual property will cease to take place.
The preferred model for WRAFT is the system that is in place in Oregon, where assessment increases are capped at 3% per year. Assessment increases in the 30% range have been common for waterfront property owners in the last few years.
The second proposal that WRAFT made was to establish a new waterfront class which would have a tax rate established to prevent the class in future from picking up a greater share of the total residential tax load.
When WRAFT made these proposals they also urged the Provincial government to defer scheduled property reassessment until a new, fairer system is in place. While he was optimistic about the response the WRAFT proposals received by the Ministry of Finance this spring, WRAFT Executive Director Bob Topp is much less optimistic now.
In his summer report, he said that while we believed a few months ago that our message was getting through [to the Ministry of Finance], more recently we have become concerned that no serious study of reforms is underway In addition we see no indication that the 2005 assessment is going to be deferred.
Topp then said, There is no question that there will be a further shift of tax in 2006 onto the waterfront.
As a result WRAFT is planning to mount a more public lobbying effort in the coming months.