As local municipalities begin the arduous task of reviewing 2016 municipal budgets, it’s becoming more clear that the provincial government is stepping up its efforts to hinder, rather than help.
This past Monday, Uxbridge councillors heard a presentation from MPAC over changes to property assessments for gravel pits, an issue of great importance to a municipality with 46 such sites.
The changes are expected to have drastic consequences for local taxpayers, as instead of paying industrial property tax rates for the entire site, only the active area where stone and sand is being extracted is subject to this high level of taxation. The remainder is subject to fees for farmland or bulk residential.
With more than half of the gravel pits in Uxbridge Township filing appeals for recent property taxes collected to be reduced, an already heavily-burdened residential base could be placed under added pressure should the municipality be forced to return more than $500,000 to these companies.
For generations, local residents have had to put up with numerous inconveniences related to the aggregate industry. Our roads, in particular the urban area, are clogged with trucks spewing harmful fumes, along with dust and noise issues.
And for what? Currently, Uxbridge (and other aggregate producing municipalities) receive a paltry six cents per tonne of raw materials extracted from our countryside. In an average year, the municipality can expect to be paid roughly $200,000 in gravel royalties. That doesn’t buy much pavement to undo the damage done by the thousands of trucks rolling through local downtowns all day and night.
If these companies wish to appeal their tax rates, that’s their right, as set out by MPAC. But, it’s the right of the municipality to deny applications for expansion to pits, which could have far reaching implications. Unlike its trucks, the aggregate industry should tread lightly in this matter.
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