(BlackburnNews.com file photo)

More Debate Over Farm Tax Assessment In Perth County

The Perth County Federation of Agriculture addressed county council Thursday with a presentation regarding their concerns on the farm tax assessment system.

Federation Vice President Tim Halliday says basing taxes off of assessments the way the system currently is will cause big increases over the next few years.

“Over the next three years in Perth County, we’re going to see a 50% increase in the taxation of farmland. The problem with that is, we’re not going to see a 5o% increase in services,” he says.

Halliday says the way municipalities raise taxes needs to be updated in terms of farm assessments, and the federation wants to work with council to try and get the province to somehow update the process of applying the tax to farmland.

“The way we raise taxes and revenues for our local municipalities needs to be updated. It’s an old system that’s been in place for many years, and with the change in how downloading of programs from the province has taken place, it needs to be updated,” says Halliday

Perth County is going to put work into a study to find out the benefits and drawbacks of tweaking the ratios on-farm assessment taxations, which is a system put in place by the province.

Halliday notes that the issue could be handled locally for now, but long term that isn’t the case.

“In the short-term, it can be dealt with at the municipal level with the change in the amount of taxes applied to farmland. In the longer term, it’s definitely an issue with the Ministry of Finance,” he says.

Halliday says farmers pay residential rates on their residence on the farm, but basing farm taxes on assessments of land value don’t necessarily reflect the level of service that applies to that farmland.

Perth Warden Walter McKenzie says despite the taxes going to municipal budgets, the real concern should be voiced higher up.

“I don’t think their battle is with us at the county or even the local municipalities, the problem is that the formula that the province initiated for this to be based on assessment, was instigated a number of years ago, 50 plus years ago. For today’s standards, it’s way out of whack,” says McKenzie.

McKenzie says he agrees the system needs to be updated when it comes to farm taxes, and the county has tried to lobby the province in recent years to do so.

“We have lobbied the province last year at ROMA convention and the previous year as well, and it hasn’t really had a very successful impact on them,” he says. “So, I think we just have to keep the pressure on. A lot of this is a result of the OMPF funding cutbacks among other cutbacks, as well.”