A tax­ing sit­u­a­tion

Mor­risette and Bern­hardt Town­ship res­i­dents fear pos­si­ble tripling of their tax bills

Northern News (Kirkland Lake) - - FRONT PAGE - JOE O’GRADY

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.”

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