| Oct 23, 2008

Oct 23/08 - 8.9% Increase in Property Assesments

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Feature Article - October 23, 2008 property owners will see an approximate 8.9% assessment increase in 2009By Jeff Green

After a three-year hiatus while the property assessment regime was reformed in Ontario, ratepayers in Frontenac and Lennox and Addington counties received property assessment notices in the mail this week.

And many, particularly waterfront property owners, may have not liked what they saw.

The average property in the two counties has increased in assessed value by 35%, but waterfront properties have increased by an average of 46% while farm properties by a mere 15.5%.

Property assessment is used as the basis for taxation, but the tax rate that is applied to that assessment is determined by local township councils when they do their annual budgets. If the township happens to lower their tax rate to correspond to increased assessment, then only those properties with an assessment increase that is higher than the township average would see an actual tax increase.

If, however, the townships do not reduce their rate, Frontenac and Lennox and Addington ratepayers will see a $60 - $75 increase in taxation for every $5,000 of assessment increase on their assessment notice.

One of the major changes that was made to the property assessment system is a four-year phase-in for assessment increases. This will give those property owners who are facing tax increases because their assessments have jumped, some time to adjust to higher municipal taxes.

The assessments themselves are based on activities in the real estate market since 2005, according to officials from the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC)

“Our values are based on actual selling prices and reflect the local real estate market,” said Bev Disney, a municipal representative from MPAC. “We have seen selling prices for homes, waterfront property and farmland increase over the past three years and our values reflect that.”

“We have made a number of changes to improve customer service and provide property taxpayers with more information that they can use to decide if their assessed value is accurate,” Disney said.

“Our role is to assess property accurately. We strive for accuracy but when assessing nearly 4.7 million properties across Ontario, mistakes can be made. If a property taxpayer believes an error has been made and that his or her property would not have sold for its assessed value on January 1, 2008, we want them to call us or visit our Kingston office. We’ll explain how we arrived at the assessment and, if it’s wrong, we’ll fix it,” Disney said.

Hours at the Kingston office will be extended from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Friday through November 14 to respond to local taxpayers’ questions. The regular hours at the Kingston office are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday. Property taxpayers can also call the Customer Contact Centre at 1 866 296-6722 (MPAC) or visit the MPAC website at www.mpac.ca for more information.

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