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Local taxes hiked four per cent

13/02/23 — Fort Erie’s residential property owners will pay approximately $1,465 of municipal taxes for every $100,000 of the assessed value of their homes in 2013.

Town council approved an operations budget on Jan. 28 that will see the local component of taxes increase by 4.12 per cent.

The combined effects of property assessment devaluations, a more modest increase from the Region and a cut in the educational component will result in an average increase on the total tax bill of 1.12 per cent.

The Town estimates this will add approximately $28 to the average annual tax bill, based on a median assessed value of $175,360 for the home.

Property assessments in Fort Erie increased by a fraction compared to the Region and the province as a whole.

An average 2.99 increase in Fort Erie assessments across all property classes, which will be phased in over four years, is offset by reductions that take effect immediately.

For 2013, the net effect on the total assesment base is a 0.7 per cent reduction — for homes it’s 0.79 per cent reduction.

Home owners who saw a greater reduction in their assessments will experience a lesser impact on their taxes from the budget. Increased assessments will result in greater impact.

Assessments across Niagara increased 7.11 per cent while the provincial increase is 18 per cent.

The assessment decline will result in Fort Erie taxpayers paying a reduced share of Region and education taxes.

The Region’s increase of 2.9 per cent on its levy, which accounts for 49 per cent of tax bills, translates into a more modest 0.62 per cent increase in Fort Erie because of the effect of property assessments.

Additionally, a four cent cut in the education tax rate imposed by the Province in December becomes a full 4.83 reduction for Fort Erie taxpayers. Education comprises 15 per cent of the property tax burden.

Assessments may prove hazardous for the Town because many will likely be appealed and reduced which would serve to decrease total tax revenue.

Overall, the Town expects to collect $20.7 million from taxpayers — the general levy — and another $4.5 million from other sources, including user fees, gaming and grants.

The general levy budget last year was $19.85 million but tax revenues did not meet budget which caused a $204,000 shortfall in taxes collected.

Offsetting the tax shortfall, interest and penalties on tax arrears was $260,000 more than expected, about $937,000 in total last year.

Another related variance in 2012 revenue was a surplus of $314,000 in user fees which resulted from surpluses accrued from tax sales of lands that were in arrears.

After a tax sale, the surplus is normally given to the former owner of the land, but the Town had been unable to locate some and applied to the court to retain the funds.

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