The province is continuing to provide strong support to the city through the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund (OMPF), as well as by uploading the costs of some services to the province and introducing new provincial programs for municipalities, announced David Orazietti, MPP. Despite these efforts Sault residents continue to pay a high level of property taxes.
The Province continues to help reduce tax pressure on the City of Sault Ste. Marie by providing funding through the OMPF, a transfer program which helps municipalities with the costs of operating important social programs and services. The OMPF is made up of a combination of a transfer payment and the value of provincial uploads.
In 2015 the City of Sault Ste. Marie’s OMPF was valued at $31 million which includes a payment of $16 million to the City. This payment is equivalent to $471 per household – 5 times the provincial average. In addition, the province has uploaded $15 million in what were previously city costs including:
Ontario Drug Benefit $1,897,300
Ontario Disability Support Plan (ODSP) Administration: $1,079,100
Ontario Disability Support Plan (ODSP) Benefits: $8,632,400
Ontario Works (OW) Benefits: $1,778,000
Ontario Works (OW) Administration: $1,713,300
Court Security and Prisoner Transportation: $518,500
A comparison of Ministry of Finance data with two other nearby Northern Ontario cities reveals that both cities received less in provincial transfer funding in 2015, yet their residential property taxes remained lower than in Sault Ste. Marie.
“Our government continues to make significant investments in Sault Ste. Marie to help reduce local property tax pressure, however when comparing other communities, many that receive no property tax subsidy from the province and others that receive less, Sault residents face significant property tax challenges,” said Orazietti. “There is also a similar comparison to be made with other communities and local business and industrial tax rates and if we are to support seniors on fixed income living in their homes longer and expect businesses to stay open or come to Sault Ste. Marie, more needs to be done to address high local taxes.”
Sudbury with a larger population received a $380 per household property tax subsidy from the province, yet property tax on a home assessed at $200,000 is $2,410, while in Sault Ste. Marie property tax on a home assessed at $200,000 is $2,830 a difference of $420.
North Bay with a smaller population received only $299 per household in a property tax subsidy from the province, yet property tax on a home assessed at $200,000, is $2,590 which is $240 less than Sault Ste. Marie.
“Efforts made by the Mayor and Council to reduce municipal property taxes would be strongly supported and a positive step in the right direction,” added Orazietti.
In addition to the OMPF, when combined with additional investments to reduce city costs such as the provincial gas tax program, increased funding for land ambulance and the uploading of an additional 25% of public health costs, the ongoing provincial support to Ontario’s municipalities totals approximately $3.7 billion in 2015 – an increase of $2.6 billion since 2003.
In the Spring of 2015, the provincial government announced it would re-introduce a new Connecting Links program, committing $15 million annually to communities. Funded projects have included bridge replacement, pavement rehabilitation, storm sewer construction and intersection improvements. The Connecting Links program is in addition to the Ontario Community Infrastructure Fund (OCIF) which provides $100 million per year in funding to municipalities for critical road, bridge, water and wastewater projects. Through the OCIF $50 million is available per year in formula-based funding and another $50 million per year is available in application-based funding.
Provincial Government initiatives supporting the City of Sault Ste. Marie since 2003 include:
- Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund (OMPF), 49% increase since 2004 to support the cost of municipal services
- 50/50 funding for land ambulance from province – has meant $1.9 million in municipal savings in 2014
- Provincial share of public health increased to 75% from 50%
- $11 million new provincial gas tax program
- $10.4 million Fort Creek Aqueduct replacement
- $9.3 million for new Algoma Public Health building
- $6.4 million in Social Housing improvements
- $6.2 million for Northern Community Recreation Centre
- $5.6 million Carmen’s Way
- $4.7 million for the Essar Centre
- $4.2 million for Conservation Authority source water infrastructure
- $3.5 million for Third Line Extension
- $3.1 million for rehabilitation of single lane bridges – Small, Rural and Northern Municipal Infrastructure Fund
- $3.1 million Hub Trail and Waterfront Walkway
- $3 million for Municipal Infrastructure Investment Initiative (MIII) 2008
- $2.7 million Canada Ontario Municipal Rural Infrastructure Fund (COMRIF)
- $2.2 million new Emergency Response Centre (EMS)
- $2 million Small Rural and Northern Municipal Infrastructure Fund – Second Line
- $2 million Ontario Community Infrastructure Fund – third phase Second Line widening
- $1.6 million Recreational Infrastructure Canada/Ontario 2009
- $1.3 million approximately annually for court security prisoner transportation; 8 new city police officers hired for first time at full cost to the province; community policing partnerships
- $1.2 million Root River Bridge – Connecting Links program
- $1.1 million reconstruction Trunk Road – Connecting Links program
- $1 million Heritage Discovery Centre
- $875,500 for Downtown Revitalization Plan
- $435,300 Ontario Community Infrastructure Fund – annual formula based component