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Farmland tax rate is low enough: UCPR

Despite a call from the Ontario Federation of Agriculture to lower farmland taxes, the United Counties of Prescott and Russell has decided to maintain its current ratio of one-quarter of the residential tax rate.

During the UCPR’s latest council meeting, treasurer Julie Ménard-Brault showed that under the current ratios, the bulk of the levy comes from residential taxes. In 2018, they made up 81 per cent all taxes, while farms were only at four per cent.

The Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) has farmland value growing considerably over the next few years with the total assessment reaching more than $2 billion across the UCPR in 2020. By then, farmers will still be paying less than five per cent of the total levy.

“The (farmland) portion of municipal taxes rises slightly but if we look at the percentage of the taxes they pas comparatively to the evaluation, it’s still quite good,” said Ménard-Brault.

She added that under the current ratio, 92 per cent of farmland properties will see a tax increase of $33 or less into 2020.

If the UCPR was to lower the tax ratio for farmland, by 2020 it would result in savings of about $120 for the average farm property and increase the average residential tax bill by $12.75.

“I support farmers, that goes without saying. But when it comes to taxes, it’d be preferential treatment,” said Hawkesbury Mayor Jeanne Charlebois. “Everyone else will be paying for that treatment.”

Stéphane Parisien, the CAO of the UCPR, told council if it lowered the tax ratio it’d be “shooting itself in the foot.”

Finally, Clarence-Rockland Mayor Guy Desjardins reiterated that the problem isn’t local tax rates, but rather the valuations done by MPAC.

“They’re the ones raising the value of our land but really it’s the same land, we do the same thing with it,” he said. “It’s good for those who will sell but those who don’t are paying more taxes.”

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