Commercial property tax errors means Belleville pays up

Kingston, ON, Canada / CKWS TV
Commercial property tax errors means Belleville pays up
Belleville’s Big Box Stores are among hundreds across the province that didn’t like the way their commercial properties were assessed.
So stores like Canadian Tire and Home Depot filed appeals with the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation, known as MPAC, to get their property taxes reduced. And, after a long battle  they won.

Jack Miller, Belleville City Councillor
“It puts municipalities in a very bad position… that the assessments were wrong in the first place. ”

The City of Belleville has 120 days to repay the local stores 2 million dollars based on their revised tax assessments.A huge chunk from the city’s purse.But officials say they were prepared for the extra cost by topping up their reserve funds… insisting it won’t lead to higher tax bills for everyone else.

Brian Cousins, Director of Finance/Treasurer
” We came up with an idea about funding a large number of capital projects that were completed. Instead of putting the money back into other reserve funds we decided to put it into the tax rate stabilization reserve fund and then use that money to fund all those commercial and industrial assessment appeals.”

While MPAC couldn’t be reached to comment, this councillor questions the commercial property assessment formula.

Miller:
“MPAC by its very nature, by its very mission statement is supposed to provide timely and accurate assessments and clearly that’s not happening right now.”

The revised assessments will also have an impact on school boards as they’ll have to make do with a smaller share of those tax bills. A million dollar revenue loss for them.

Brian Cousins, Director of Finance/Treasurer
“We pay the School Board on a quarterly basis, on a yearly basis. And now we’ve had to notify them that they’re not getting as much money from this requisition because of all these successful appeals.”

And the property assessment challenges in Belleville are far from over.
With more appeals pending… there are fears it could have an even bigger tax impact on the city.

Jack Miller:
“There are many other challenges in the queue – over 100 in Belleville alone. And that may involve residential to boot. At the same time there could be a lot more to come. Not just for Belleville, but for all municipalities.”

But appeals take time. It took the Big Box stores 7 years to get their tax bills lowered.
Jonna Semple, CKWS News Belleville

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