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Seguin lowers its tax rate

posted Oct 15, 2009, 1:20 PM by Cheryl Hollows   [ updated May 13, 2010, 3:12 PM ]
Parry Sound Beacon Star By Stephannie Johnson Mar 12, 2010 
SEGUIN TWP. – Seguin Township is lowering its tax rate.  

Due to unexpected revenue and a drop in its contribution to the District Social Services Administration Board (DSSAB), Mayor David Conn said the township is able to pass the savings on to its residents.
Seguin’s budget process began in September and Conn credits staff and their good management of the township’s finances for the reduction.
“We are reducing our tax rate and we’re able to do this because we generated an attractive surplus last year and that was (because of) some revenue we didn’t expect,” he said in an interview with the Beacon Star last month. “All the staff really did a good job controlling their budget. (Staff) came in under budget, we generated about $500,000 surplus so we can pass the majority of that on to the taxpayers.” 
“When we started to put our budget together we were looking at maybe a maximum increase of maybe two per cent and we based it on certain assumptions of external levees and it turns out that our assumptions were conservative,” Conn said. “Our levies actually came in a little less than we thought so we can pass that on to the ratepayers as well.
“What this really means is our average assessment goes up next year by 5.4 per cent and by reducing the tax rate, it means that anybody’s house that went up the average will pay us no more dollar taxes than last year. Anybody that goes up by less than 5.4 per cent will pay us less; anybody that goes up more than 5.4 per cent will pay us more.”
In 2008, all Ontario properties were reassessed and any increases will be phased in, 25 per cent per year over a four-year period.
“What used to happen was when you got reassessed – bang – if your property happened to go up 100 per cent, that was too bad and that’s happened, you’d be surprised,” said Michele Fraser, Seguin Township’s chief financial officer. “Now, if your property goes up 100 per cent, you’re assessment will only go up 25 per cent per year, which is a lot easier for people. We had to take the 2009 tax rate and figure out what that should have been with the phased-in assessment. So we kind of take the amount of revenue we get, figure out what is actual growth and what is phased-in growth in the assessment. Essentially what that came to was that the average property in Seguin the assessment was going up from 2009 to 2010 by 5.43 per cent so we had bring the tax rate down. We went essentially from a municipal tax rate of .399024 per cent down to .37878 per cent. 
“And that would generate without real growth – and when I say real growth I mean somebody’s built a new house, assessment has grown as opposed to increased. So essentially we got back to that tax rate and we’ve been able to leave it there.”
A lowered external levy from DSSAB, totaling a drop of $336,000, also contributed to the decrease, Fraser said. 
“Municipalities uploading costs started in 2008 as they uploaded the costs to the province…this year, when DSSAB did their preliminary budget, they had flowed through a lot of that uploading so we were able to take advantage of that this year. That was very helpful for us, it amounted to approximately $336,000 in a decrease,” Fraser said.