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City tweaks tax ratios to give apartment landlords a break

A looming 10.33 per cent tax increase on multi-residential properties was cut to 8.62 per cent
The buck stops here, at the Civic Centre. Ratepayers will deposit 114,995,220 of them into local tax coffers in 2019. David Helwig/SooToday

New tax ratios approved by City Council this week shift part of the 2019 tax burden away from owners of apartment buildings and other multi-residential properties.

Driven by a nine per cent increase in multi-residential assessment, landlords were facing a 10.33 per cent increase in their tax bills.

By restating the 2019 tax ratios, this hike was cut this week to 8.62 per cent.

A 10.33 per cent hike on row houses and apartment buildings with seven or more self-contained units would have conflicted with the city's 2014 rental housing community improvement plan, which aims to increase the Sault's inventory of affordable rental accommodations.

"Although the multi-residential tax increase is still high due to assessment changes, it has been mitigated to some extent while also balancing the objectives of other tax classes," said Shelley Schell, city treasurer and chief financial officer, in a report to Mayor Provenzano and councillors.

2019 tax hikes on typical properties

  • $79 (3.11 per cent) on a single-family dwelling assessed at $192,250
  • $1,690 (8.45 per cent) on an apartment building assessed at $1,465,250
  • $40 (-0.47 per cent) on a small office building assessed at $287,750
  • $124 (1.91 per cent) on a small retail commercial property assessed at $226,000
  • $137 (0.36 per cent) on a standard industrial property assessed at $609,825

The city had limited options this year because overall assessment growth was just 0.22 per cent, meaning there was just $237,000 in new revenue to offset the levy increase.

"Low growth limits the ability to mitigate the tex shift in the multi-residential class further," Schell said.

Under the shuffled tax-class ratios approved Monday by City Council, 70.5 per cent of residential properties will get less than a $100 increase, with an average increase of $59.

The city's operating budget levy of $115 million was set by City Council in February.

Amounts to be raised from each property tax in Sault Ste. Marie in 2019:

  • residential - $72,719,645 (63.2 per cent)
  • multi-residential - $5,870,138 (5.1 per cent)
  • commercial occupied - $19,934,571 (17.3 per cent)
  • commercial excess land - $129,848 (0.1 per cent)
  • shopping occupied - $4,799,453 (4.2 per cent)
  • shopping excess - $0 (0.0 per cent)
  • office occupied - $673,257 (0.6 per cent)
  • office excess land - $0 (0.0 per cent)
  • parking/ vacant land - $544,888 (0.5 per cent)
  • industrial occupied - $2,679,668 (2.3 per cent)
  • industrial excess land - $32,248 (0.0 per cent)
  • industrial vacant land - $274,987 (0.2 per cent)
  • large industrial occupied - $6,491,248 (5.6 per cent)
  • large industrial excess - $127,629 (0.1per cent)
  • landfills - $0 (0.0 per cent)
  • pipelines - $702,745 (0.6 per cent)
  • farms - $7,257 (0.0 per cent)
  • managed forests - $7,637 (0.0 per cent)

Taxation figures contained in this article don't account for education taxes, which the city collects on behalf on the provincial government.

They also make no provision for tax-capping, temporary limitations that may be imposed on annual property tax increases on certain commercial, industrial and multi-residential properties.

Recommendations on tax-capping will be discussed at an upcoming City Council meeting.

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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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