The City of Guelph opened up a survey on Wednesday asking residents to weigh in on considerations over the tax discounts given to unused commercial and industrial lands ahead of staff recommendations to Council taking place this summer.
The city currently gives a 30 per cent tax rate discount to 229 properties totalling $925,000, which is funded by all other taxpayers, according to a press release announcing the new “have your say” survey, which taxpayers can fill out online until May 26.
The city is considering three options for the future of the discounts: Keeping the status quo, eliminating discounts in the year 2020 or phase out the discounts over the course of two years starting in 2020.
“Our goal is to ensure fair and transparent property tax programs,” said property tax supervisor Greg Bedard, adding that “recent changes from the Ontario government allow us to review and adjust tax programs to achieve a more equitable distribution of property taxes.”
City Hall will summarize the results of the survey in a report to be presented to the 13 on Council this summer. The report will also contain staff recommendations for the future of the program for consideration.
In Ontario, property assessments are classified into different classes and subclasses, depending on the property’s use, and property taxes are based on these assessments. City Council sets the tax rate for each class and subclass based on the budget.
Previously, the Ontario government required municipalities to give tax rate discounts to commercial and industrial property owners who have vacant or excess land.
Amendments to the Municipal Act outlined in the Building Ontario Up for Everyone Act, or Bill 70, gives municipalities the option to make changes to vacant and excess land subclass discounts. This allows municipalities to determine the best way to ensure all property owners pay their fair share.