A taxing situation
Morrisette and Bernhardt Township residents fear possible tripling of their tax bills
KIRKLAND LAKE – A proposal to change the tax structure for two outlying townships serviced by the town of Kirkland Lake could triple the tax bills of residents of those communities.
The Tax Committee for Morrisette and Bernhardt Townships has issued a news release expressing a concern that a proposal to rescind a taxation bylaw that’s been in place for decades could see taxes skyrocket for the 80 households of these townships.
“The new (Kirkland Lake) CAO Peter Avgoustis has calculated, in a report to council that the townships presently receive 97% services from the town. This calculation is grossly exaggerated, not accurate and written before Mr. Avgoustis even took an actual physical tour of the Townships,” the committee says. “Should the town proceed with rescinding the taxation By-Law it will close to triple the taxes for the residents in the Townships. A typical tax bill for a full-time family paying $3500 annual taxes will now have to pay $9170, add the CAOs 18% tax hike and you are looking at$10,820/ year. Taxes in some cases will exceed $20,000 a year. A typical cottage will see their taxes go from $1,000 to $2504 + 18% = $2954/year.”
Members of the committee include Brian Coghlan, Murray Clark, Ivan Quist, Robert Hong, Mike Guimond, Al French and Emile Bouley.
Kirkland Lake annexed the two townships 33 years ago and residents there currently pay 35 per cent of the levy paid by other Kirkland Lake ratepayers.
The tax committee says the townships are an underserviced area and receive only a fraction of the services enjoyed by town residents.. “We presently do not receive any, sewer or water service. Roads services, are paid for on a user pay basis. We have contributed millions of dollars over the years towards the towns road, sewer and water infrastructure projects and have received nothing, except an upgrade to airport road which was needed to facilitate safe ambulance travel. We only receive limited Fire, Police and Ambulance services and no garbage pick-up.”
A large portion of the townships, that includes half of Nettie Lake, does not have any services during the winter because the roads aren’t plowed, the committee says.
“Mr. Avgoustis proposes to take over the roads service. If the town does this they must spend millions of dollars to upgrade roads, purchase new equipment and provide extra manpower to provide full service. The economics of a 100% tax increase will not work. The increased tax dollars will never pay for the amount of money the town will have to spend to provide the additional services.”
The committee says the CAO’s actions are causing “significant anxiety and fear to families, some people know they will lose their homes should the tax rates be increased to 100%.”
The town’s decision to open up Tuesday’s meeting with the residents to the public in general “is an attempt to pit one taxpayer against another,” the committee says,.
“There are approximately 80 households in the townships compared to about 4500 in town so any increased revenues from Morrisette and Bernhardt will have very little impact in reducing other Kirkland Lake tax bills.
“We have contributed millions of dollars to the town’s coffers and the towns economy. Should you implement this tax hike there will be no more money spent out here. People have put their house construction plans on hold because of this. We are open to amend the by-law to a fair tax rate based on an accurate study conducted by a third-party area taxation expert, the same way it was originally done when the Townships were annexed by the Town of Kirkland Lake.”