Brief to ACW Council, 2002-11-19

Thank you for the opportunity to present to Council this evening. There will be several presenters and a number of topics covered.

Mike McElhone will be speaking on the topic of mandatory septic inspections. Heinz Puhlmann will be reviewing the results of a survey of lakeshore owners undertaken by the Association this summer. Nigel Bellchamber will review the topics contained in this brief. These topics are in random order, so sequence does not necessarily imply priority.

Property Taxes and Tax Policy

The reassessments have been mailed and values are showing increases in most segments reflecting the changes in the economy between 1999 and 2001, the two valuation dates.

The changes in value for seasonal properties appear to be in the 30% to 50% range based on a small sample of properties reviewed. We understand that residential values overall increased in the 20% range, so this would suggest a shift of taxation for 2003 towards seasonal as a result, particularly if farmlands values also increased at a rate less than that of seasonal. We also understand that reassessment impact statements are made available to municipal staff and would appreciate it if this information could be shared with us, since it does not identify specific properties and thus should not be kept confidential. With this information, both locally and from the County, we can assist in getting the message out to our membership as to what the reassessment impact on taxation might actually be.

We realize that the tax bill is a combination of a uniform province-wide School Tax Rate, a County Rate, and a Local Township Rate, and that the reassessment will not affect each the same because each rate is derived from a tax requirement raised from a different pool of properties.

However, we are concerned that the reassessment not obscure tax levy increases that are characterized as being a result of the reassessment when they represent spending increases instead. We believe that this happened with the last reassessment, certainly on the local township rate, and that with the amalgamation and other administrative events a thorough analysis was not available to Council. For 2003, that should not be the case.

2003 Budget

We would like to participate in the 2003 budget discussions as an Association.

We realize that this is a departure from past practice but the new Municipal Act 2001 and associated Regulations requires Council to have a greater degree of public involvement in the Budget and the Water, Sewer, and Waste Management rate-setting processes.

We also realize that there are new issues as well that will have an impact, for example the new Provincially-mandated road maintenance standards and new water legislation in progress.

Our Association members have both the interest and the expertise to be of assistance to both the Township and its ratepayers and believe the Council and Administration would find our Association's input useful in what is going to be both a reassessment year and an election year.

Roads Issues

Whether it is for purposes such as Stream Testing in conjunction with the MVCA, travel to the Landfill sites, or just back and forth to the Lake from other homes, our members travel many of the Township roads on a frequent basis. We cannot help but comment on the apparent high standard of maintenance both to the road surfaces and roadsides. In fact, some of our members have suggested they may be better maintained than similar roads in other Townships, and one of the causes of the large increase in taxation two years ago. We would encourage Council to compare expenditures and standards with similar jurisdictions if it already has not done so.

Also dealing with Roads, we understand another Huron County municipality with similar proportions of lakefront taxation to ACW has established a funding policy for supporting local association maintenance of unassumed Township Roads . We would encourage the Township to develop a similar policy for the 2003 budget year.

Other Issues

Council is familiar with representations made on Bill 81, on the new Official Plan for the Township, and is no doubt aware of our continued contact with MVCA and the Huron County Health Unit on Lake water quality issues, so we will not repeat these but would welcome questions.

Our Association has a strong communications network, a well informed membership, and incredible professional experience and talent. We would encourage the Township to take advantage of this resource for our mutual benefit. We recognize that we co-exist with permanent residents and agri-business operators, and wish to work with all parties towards the long term environmental and economic health of the Township.

Addendum: ACW Township Financial Comments

Township-Purposes Taxation:

Pre-amalgamation combined local purpose tax revenue $1,751,687
2001 ACW Township local-purpose tax revenue $2,150,000 approx.
2002 ACW Township local-purpose tax revenue $2,208,000

Post-amalgamation issues and unusual capital expenditures may have caused the 2001 increase, but why did Township-purposes spending in 2002 not return to pre-amalgamation levels, adjusted downwards for any amalgamation savings and upwards for CPI? Can Council identify where the additional funds have gone and why the higher level of spending persists, and will it extend into 2003, and if so, why?

Presented by Nigel Bellchamber on behalf of ACLA.