skscfjb · 2021-03-02

Proposed break for businesses rebuffed

MIDHURST – Simcoe County councillors opted not to give employers a tax break this year for fear of the impact on homeowners.

Instead, county councillors will contemplate how to reduce the tax burden for business and industry at a strategic planning session Tuesday.

And they’ll have a year to consider how to implement any ideas that may emerge as the county sets tax ratios – how to allocate the tax levy among the various property classes, such as residential, commercial, farm, pipeline and industrial.

Collingwood Mayor Chris Carrier had urged the mayors and deputy mayors of the county’s 16 member municipalities to give business extra care this year, as the recession stresses companies.

He said the county has room to move to make its tax ratios more fair, as businesses bear not only a large share of the municipal tax, but also six to 10 times more than a residential taxpayer in education taxes.

“We have significant employers looking toward all levels of government to offer stimulus and be more fair,” he said Tuesday. “We’re a long, long way from the (provincially recommended) range of fairness. What I’m asking is the moving forward of the bylaw (setting taxes) be held off until we collectively discuss this.”

His motion, however, failed, and county councillors set the new taxes effective March 24.

“I’m not opposed to what Coun. Carrier is suggesting, (but) we really need to see the actual effect on a number of municipalities. My community is 95 per cent residential,” said Tiny Township Mayor Peggy Breckenridge. “It’s probably not too bad, but without the numbers, how can we move forward?”

Switching the ratio slightly would cost residents a few dollars more, while sparing companies with higher assessments much more. It would impact municipalities differently, depending on their makeup.

Collingwood, with its diverse employment and industrial base, would benefit, while Tiny, which is largely residential, would see its support to the county rise.

Two weeks ago, Essa Township Mayor David Guergis highlighted a Barrie company that was poised to build two plants in Essa, but went to the United States instead, where taxes were lower and municipal regulations fewer.