By Connor Lynch
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 Western 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. Farmers Forum contacted 21 municipalities in Western Ontario and Southern Ontario. Not a single one reduced its farm tax ratio for 2017.
The OFA was hoping that LeFort would convince local councils to reduce the farm tax rate by explaining that there would not be a corresponding reduction in a municipality’s income as farm property assessments have dramatically increased. Some counties didn’t even look at it as an option.
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 also been in talks with the Western Ontario Wardens’ Caucus, the eastern caucus, and the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, he said.