By Connor Lynch
The pressure is on for the Ontario Federation of Agriculture in its effort to get farm tax rates balanced.
But once again, the OFA is making little headway in Eastern Ontario.
This year was a critical one, said OFA president Keith Currie, for counties to get the OFA’s message on how to balance farm tax rates without shifting the tax burden to residential rate payers. OFA policy analysts went to municipalities across Ontario for the second year in a row to share their data on how municipalities could adjust the farm tax ratio to keep tax rates proportionally the same.
But of 14 upper-tier municipalities in Eastern Ontario contacted by Farmers Forum, not a single one had adjusted its farm tax ratio.
Nine of those municipalities decided not to lower the ratio. Four municipalities said they weren’t expecting any change, though the ratio for 2018 hadn’t been set yet. One county, Lennox & Addington, lowered its ratio last year from 25 per cent to 24 per cent, but is phasing that back up to 25 per cent over the next three years.
MPAC farmland assessments that rolled out two years ago came as an unwelcome shock to many farmers. On average, farmland valuations across Ontario went up by 60 per cent. MPAC phases the assessments in over four years to soften the blow but by 2020, many farmers are looking at a significantly higher property tax bill.