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Annexation may not be so ‘win-win’ as claimed by mystery flyer about Prince Township

Moving the city limits could force renegotiation of city services provided to Prince ratepayers

Malcolm White, chief administrative officer of the City of Sault Ste. Marie, is responding to claims made in an anonymous flyer targeting ratepayers in the former Township of Parke, including Sault Ste. Marie Airport, Pointe aux Pins, Pointe Louise, Pointe des Chenes, Nokomis Beach and Sunnyside Beach.

The mystery flyer promotes a petition calling for the boundary of Prince Township to be shifted to include all properties west of Town Line Road and south to the St. Marys River.

It claims city ratepayers in those areas would save $985 a year in property taxes on a $200,000 house, or $2,470 on a half-million dollar residence, with no loss in services.

In a memorandum to Mayor Provenzano and ward councillors, CAO White points out it might not be quite that simple.

White points out that the city provides numerous services to the Township of Prince, including:

  • building inspection services under the Building Code Act
  • household hazardous waste
  • landfill
  • fire services (backup to volunteer fire service)
  • policing
  • winter control (snow plowing and sanding)

"The above services are delivered under a number of agreements with the city," White says.

"While the terms for these agreements vary, they do not always reflect the per capita rates paid by the taxpayers of Sault Ste. Marie."

"If the boundary change had proceeded, the agreements would have needed to be renegotiated."

"In addition, residents of Prince Township use city facilities (ie: recreational facilities/programs on a resident, rather than non-resident basis."

"This means that while they pay the user fees associated with facility and program use, which address operating costs to a degree, their property tax levy does not support the building of and subsidized operating expenses of these facilities/programs.

"If the boundary change had proceeded, the change to a non-resident user fee structure would require review," White said.

The area affected by the proposed annexation represents three per cent of the city’s taxable assessment and 2.2 per cent of the 2020 levy.

Both Sault MPP Ross Romano and Steve Clark, provincial minister of municipal affairs and housing, have indicated they won't consider any boundary change unless both Prince and the City of Sault Ste. Marie want it to happen.

The petition is available for signing at the Airways General Store at 2667 Second Line W.

The issue is on the agenda for tonight's meeting of Sault Ste. Marie City Council.

That meeting will be livestreamed on SooToday starting at 4:30 p.m.

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David Helwig

About the Author: David Helwig

David Helwig's journalism career spans seven decades beginning in the 1960s. His work has been recognized with national and international awards.
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