Press Release, Mayoral Candidate Ted Johnston, August 23, 2018
The Algoma Steel tax deal has been struck. Let us collect ourselves and look at it logically. As someone running for office, but who is not a career politician, I would like to avoid getting into the mud with Mr. Ring and Mr. Provenzano and just ask some questions. Answers to these questions will help clear this up for the public.
The city did not get all the money owed, no matter which set of numbers are used. In all honesty, I never expected that they would. When a company files for protection from creditors there just simply is not much can be done until that runs its course. That’s just how it is. We did get a lot, it could have been worse, so be thankful it was not. My only question on this front is what was the reason Council retained the outside legal assistance? Once a company files for protection, you can do nothing. So what was the purpose? I want to know why, what they did and exactly how much money was paid to them.
From what I understand by reading the media articles, most of the confusion centres on numbers related to MPAC (Municipal Property Assessment Corporation). First I want to know how there could be so much variation, over such a short period of time in the assessment values put out by MPAC. The number seems to have varied from $83 Million down to $39 Million, which is a staggering 53% variation. To put that in perspective for us ordinary, overtaxed homeowners; that would see the value of a nice $180,000 home drop to $95,400 and it would happen in less than 5 years. That is more than just substantial, it certainly cannot be called reasonable. The exact term to use escapes me because I would have used unbelievable, except of course I must believe it because it happened.
A 53% variation in assessed property values. What is going on here? If the value had remained reasonably consistent then this process would have been much easier. Unfortunately the huge difference has allowed multiple interpretations of what the tax bill should have been. Obviously it is to the company’s benefit for the number to be as low as possible, while the city would wish for Mr. Ring’s numbers. Reality has, no shock, come out somewhere in between. I think we (the taxpayers, the city and the company) all deserve a very clear answer on how and why this happened because it is the cause of much of the confusion and ill will.
Will we ever see answers to the questions I have asked about the city hiring external legal people or how MPAC can justify 53% variations in property value? Hope so, but doubt it. Transparency and accountability are just words to all the layers of my government, not actions. More than anything else that’s why I’m running for Mayor, to remedy the lack of transparency and accountability. We residents deserve better than this.