UXBRIDGE: Amid growing concerns from residents that the township is not receiving fair value from the money paid to the Region of Durham through property tax collection, regional finance commissioner Jim Clapp recently made a presentation to council, outlining how regional funds are spent.
“Assessment is the basis for most taxation,” Mr. Clapp began. “And, that is beyond the control of local and regional government.” Mr. Clapp added that currently, Uxbridge homes have the highest average assessment value in North Durham at $452,000, far ahead of Scugog at $351,000 and Brock at $251,000.
As well, Mr. Clapp explained that in Uxbridge, about 60 per cent of the residential property tax bill goes to Durham Region, with 23 per cent to the township and the remainder to local Boards of Education. The 60 per cent paid by Uxbridge residents is higher than the regional average of 52 per cent.
Mr. Clapp went on to explain that growth in other areas of the Region has aided local residents in a variety of ways in recent years.
“It doesn’t matter where growth happens, residents in Uxbridge see the benefit on the regional portion of the tax bill.”
However, later in the meeting, Mr. Clapp somewhat reluctantly admitted that local residents could be adversely affected by the loss of major industry within the Region, such as the General Motors Assembly plant in Oshawa.
“If you share in the growth, then it is true that you would be affected by takeaways,” said Mr. Clapp.
The majority of Mr. Clapp’s presentation was spent covering the services provided by the Region, and their cost per month for taxpayers.
“One of the keys to this whole tax issue is that you get two bills a year, and they’re both big. But, if you break it down on a monthly basis, maybe it’s not quite what you think it is,” explained Mr. Clapp.
Mr. Clapp noted that since 2010, Uxbridge has benefitted from more than $8 million in capital improvements to its local water and sewer systems.
Also, since 2010, the Region has spent more than $23 million on roads projects in the municipality.
“13.7 per cent of regional roads are in Uxbridge Township, it’s a huge part of regional infrastructure and gets millions of dollars in upgrades every year, and I would expect that magnitude to continue in the future,” said Mr. Clapp.
As well, Mr. Clapp noted the emergency medical and public health services provided by the region to local residents.
“For what Uxbridge puts into regional coffers for ambulance service, you couldn’t fund one ambulance on a 24/7 basis locally,” explained Mr. Clapp.
As well, he noted that almost 10 per cent of the participants in the Region’s Healthy Babies program are Uxbridge residents, despite Uxbridge having just over three per cent of Durham’s population.
However, Mr. Clapp also noted some of the local issues with transit. Mayor Gerri Lynn O’Connor, added that currently, Uxbridge residents pay more for Durham Region Transit than those living in Oshawa.
“One thorn in the side is probably transit, I will admit that,” said Mr. Clapp. “Transit is going to have to be dealt with, and I think that your representatives are working towards that.”
Ward 3 Councillor Pat Mikuse noted that many Uxbridge residents do not have an issue with the property tax levels, but that it can be draining on long-time residents, who have lived in the township for decades.
“If you move from Richmond Hill, Markham or Toronto, and get a million dollars for your house, it’s a deal up here and you likely don’t care as much about taxes,” commented Councillor Mikuse. “But our longtime residents, the ones who helped to build this community into a place where people want to move to are the ones that feel the pinch.”
Mayor Gerri Lynn O’Connor added that she would like to see a copy of the presentation put on the township’s web site www.town.uxbridge.on.ca, so that residents can gain a better understanding of where regional dollars are spent locally.
“Hopefully, it will put it to rest that we are getting our fair share for being part of Durham Region. We can’t go it on our own, or join up with the other two northen municipalities, because then taxes would go up even higher, because we’d be picking up Brock and Scugog.