GUELPH — As counties and municipalities go into budget season, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture is taking another stab at getting them to lower their farm tax rates.
Shockingly high MPAC assessments on farm properties rolled out across Ontario last year. Many regions in Eastern Ontario saw increases as high as 100 per cent. But the blow has been softened by a four-year phase-in period.
But the effort the OFA undertook last year didn’t pay off. OFA tax expert Ben LeFort presented at every municipality that would accept him, pitching a reduced farm tax rate. The vast majority in Eastern Ontario did not reduce the tax rate, though Lennox and Addington did, bringing it down to 23 per cent in 2017, though it will scale back up to 25 per cent by 2020.
The OFA was hoping that, since LeFort had done the math on how municipalities could reduce the farm tax rate without lowering tax revenue, they might give farmers a break. Some Eastern Ontario counties didn’t even look at it as an option. Those that did largely refused.
With a year to get used to the idea, OFA president Keith Currie said he’s hopeful that some municipalities will offer a break to farmers this year. “We’re trying to get councillors to understand there’s an unnecessary burden being put on farm properties,” he told Farmers Forum. The OFA has been in talks with the Eastern Ontario Wardens’ Caucus, the western caucus, and the Association of Municipalities of Ontario as well, he said.