by Shaun McLaughlin
first published at www. shaunoncouncil.ca
You will see a change in your tax
bill in 2014.
Every year, Mississippi Mills passes on to local taxpayers costs downloaded by the province. Because these charges are hidden within your tax bill, Town Council gets the blame for over-taxation. Well, we are pushing back starting this year.
The biggest single downloaded expense each year is the OPP policing contract. The price was $1.54 million in 2013, or an average of $293 per household. Projections suggest that will soon increase dramatically. We have no control over policing costs. The province dictates service levels and charges.
During the last round of wage negotiations with the OPP, Queen’s Park committed to making the officers’ salary equivalent to the highest paid police in the province. As part of this deal, the OPP will see an 8.5% wage increase in 2014.
In addition, the province has proposed to charge each municipality the equivalent of $260 per household for the base OPP infrastructure regardless of how much they use. In addition there is the variable component—the level of service the municipality requests. The effect of the increased base charge is that rural municipalities with low crime rates (like us) will pay more for the OPP and urban areas less.
If the proposal is enacted—and many rural municipalities including Miss Mills have complained loudly—our OPP contract will jump by approximately $400,000 in 2015, or an average of $76 per household. That is equivalent to a 5.5% municipal tax increase. And increases won’t stop there.
On January 28, I submitted a notice of motion at Council, which passed unanimously, to breakout the policing costs as a separate line item on tax bills. Please do not misinterpret this as a new tax. It is merely an effort to clarify a formerly hidden cost and to shine a spotlight on excessive provincial downloading.
Note: The actual levy on your tax bill will be based on your MPAC assessment; so it will likely be above or below the averages mentioned here.