The province is continuing to provide strong support to the city through the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund (OMPF), uploading the costs of various services to the province, as well as creating a number of new provincial programs for municipalities, announced David Orazietti, MPP.
“Despite our government uploading numerous services previously paid for directly by municipal taxpayers and funding new programs to further reduce municipal tax pressure, City Council is again aiming to significantly increase taxes on local residents,” said Orazietti. “Residents, businesses and industry face some of the highest taxes in Ontario and if we are to grow our community and strengthen our economy we cannot continue down this path.”
In fact, a comparison of Ministry of Finance data in 2015, with seven Ontario cities, revealed that although these cities received less or no provincial transfer funding in 2015, their residential property taxes remained lower or considerably lower than in Sault Ste. Marie.
Sudbury 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 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.
The City of Sault Ste. Marie received the highest subsidy at $471 per household from the provincial government, yet residents with a lower tax subsidy and the same valued properties in the other cities, paid lower taxes.
What is also alarming is a recent report by the Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce referencing numerous examples of high tax classes for industry and business in Sault Ste. Marie when compared province wide and regionally to Northern Ontario. In many cases, the Sault is the highest taxing community in Northern Ontario, which is both a detriment to retaining business and industry, as well as to creating new jobs in Sault Ste. Marie.
“In recent months, rather than taking steps to address high municipal tax rates, council is attempting to discredit per $100,000 MPAC assessment comparisons from community to community,” said Orazietti. “Residents in Sault Ste. Marie won’t be fooled when it comes to how much they pay in taxes, as average tax rate comparisons do little to make it clear how much a resident pays, while comparing taxes paid on the same assessed property value gives residents an accurate comparison.”
The following information outlines specific funding investments and programs the Ontario government has delivered to support municipalities and reduce municipal tax pressure:
The $31 million OMPF is made up of a combination of a transfer payment to the city and the value of provincially uploaded services now paid for and delivered by the province not through municipal taxes.
In 2016 the City of Sault Ste. Marie received a $15.3 million OMPF payment that is equivalent to $445 per household – 4.8 times the provincial average. The 2016 OMPF payment is made up of four grant components:
- $4,257,000 Assessment Equalization Grant
- $7,872,000 Northern Communities Grant, increased in 2016 by $473,600
- $2,555,000 Northern and Rural Fiscal Circumstances Grant, increased in 2016 by $444,000
- $650,800 Transitional Assistance (assist municipalities transition to redesigned program)
2016 PROVINCIAL UPLOADS
The province has uploaded $15.9 million in what were previously city costs including:
Ontario Drug Benefit $1,757,700
Ontario Disability Support Plan (ODSP) Administration: $1,077,100
Ontario Disability Support Plan (ODSP) Benefits: $8,632,200
Ontario Works (OW) Benefits: $2,214,700
Ontario Works (OW) Administration: $1,560,200
Court Security and Prisoner Transportation: $648,100
In 2015/16, the province provided the City of Sault Ste. Marie with $2.9 million in public health funding which includes the upload of public health costs from a provincial share of 50 percent to 75 percent.
In 2015/16, the City of Sault Ste. Marie received a total of $1.9 million in land ambulance 50:50 cost-shared funding, an incremental increase of $793,300 compared to 2005 and $43,500 more than in 2014.
PROVINCIAL GAS TAX PROGRAM
In 2015/16 the City of Sault Ste. Marie received a total of $1.2 million in provincial gas tax funding for a total of $12.7 million since 2004.
The City of Sault Ste. Marie has also benefited from provincial infrastructure investments, including the permanent $100 million per year Ontario Community Infrastructure Fund (OCIF) that will be increased to $300 million by 2018/19 as proposed in the 2016 Ontario Budget. The Ontario Community Infrastructure Fund (OCIF), a 50/50 formula based and application based funding program, is available annually for municipal road, bridge, water and wastewater projects.
The Connecting Links Program, reintroduced in the spring of 2015, provides $15 million annually to communities and will be increased to $20 million in 2016/17 as proposed in the 2016 Budget. Provincial Government initiatives supporting the City of Sault Ste. Marie since 2003 include:
- $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 annually for Ontario Community Infrastructure Fund formula-based