At Monday’s meeting of City Council, council accepted the report and recommendations made by staff that the Long Term Tax Policy be received and that the following recommendations be incorporated:
1. The next reassessment year of 2021 be reviewed for assessment base stabilization to determine if the directed tax ratio reduction to the Industrial and Commercial classes can be implemented.
2. Upon assessment base stabilization, direct reduction to the Industrial and Commercial classes from overall real net assessment growth in excess of 1% until the tax ratios for Industrial and Commercial classes are equal to the provincial threshold levels.
3. Staff to investigate and report to Council on the feasibility of implementing an Industrial Community Improvement Plan.
The decision to hold off on any reductions in the existing commercial and industrial tax rates until after the next property reassessment in 2021 is contradictory to what the Chamber has encouraged the City to do, which was to send a positive message to the Sault Ste. Marie business and investment community that the City is prepared to take on its role as an economic enabler through public policy that will encourage and stimulate local business growth and investment through bold and action-oriented tax policy that does not impact the residential rate.
Through an Innovation and Continuous Improvement Officer, significant advancement and cost savings attributed to productivity and service delivery efficiencies could, in the first 5 years, be targeted towards making the tax policy more competitive for the economic drivers of this community. These savings, and the resulting economic growth, would then be transferred to reducing the residential rates so that all citizens of Sault Ste. Marie would benefit.
The Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce has been advocating for a decrease in the industrial and commercial rates for several years. A study completed by the Chamber, and further verified by an independent tax competitiveness study by KPMG and affirmed by an independent study by the Mayor’s office, show that the Sault’s commercial and industrial tax rates have been identified as the third highest in the province. The Chamber has advocated for a proactive action-oriented solution benefiting all tax payers in the community.
Municipal commercial and industrial tax rates and classifications have been identified by our members as a significant concern and a barrier for growth and the Chamber is disappointed that that the findings of the studies and the concerns of local businesses were not addressed. The Chamber strongly encourages its members to remain engaged and participate in municipal budgetary discussions by engaging with their individual members of City Council.