Most Windsor Properties to See 2014 Tax Decrease

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Windsor Star/Doug Schmidt

The average Windsor taxpayer will see a slight decrease — and about a fifth of all residential property owners “may see a slight increase” — in their taxes this year, said city treasurer Onorio Colucci.

After city council on Tuesday night set the 2014 tax rates, Colucci said “maybe” 15,000 to 20,000 of Windsor’s approximately 75,000 residential taxpayers should see a negligible increase this year. He said 53 per cent of the total, those who had no increase in their property assessment values this year, will see a decrease of about one per cent in their 2014 taxes.

As for the rest, Colucci estimates about half of them — those whose MPAC assessments rose by less than the one per cent citywide decrease — will also be enjoying a lower property tax this year.

Council congratulated itself for being able to bring most of Windsor’s property tax classes to at least within the provincial average after a decade-long effort of pursuing greater fairness in the local tax system.

“This is remarkable,” said Mayor Eddie Francis. “This is a good legacy to be proud of,” he added, noting that even his frequent critic on tax policy, Ward 4′s Alan Halberstadt, concluded the 2014 tax rates were “good news” for Windsorites.

“Better than anywhere else in the province,” Colucci told The Star.

After “holding the line on taxes” a sixth straight year, all the while tweaking the different tax rates affecting different property classes, Colucci said Windsor’s large industrial tax rate, for example, had shrunk in a decade from 161 per cent of the provincial average to about the same today.

“Definitely … the work is starting to pay off?” asked Ward 6 Coun. Jo-Anne Gignac. “Yes,” said Colucci, citing a big reduction in the unemployment rate and growth in new assessment, both signs of a rebounding economy.

With so many properties, all being individually assessed by MPAC, Colucci said city council “cannot control (taxes paid by) each individual property, which is why some will see their taxes go up.

With even candidates for municipal office confusing tax rate hikes with increases in taxes, however, it’s no surprise that more than one city councillor said the issue of how property taxes are set is confusing for many.

Colucci said he hears public comments and complaints that the city hasn’t reduced taxes because the tax rates are so high. But he said tax rates are only half the tax story and that they’re higher in Windsor because assessments are lower.

Those making such claims “are missing the point, clearly, unfortunately,” he told council.

Francis said council’s decade-old tax strategy was implemented and followed to make Windsor “the most affordable community in the province” to attract new jobs and investment.

A Windsor home valued at $150,000 this year and last will see a savings of $26.28 on their 2014 tax bill. Multi-residential and large industrial tax classes will see reductions of 1.84 per cent and 4.79 per cent, respectively.

Windsor needs to collect about $387.4 million from its taxpayers in 2014 to cover the municipal levy ($319 million) and the education levy of $68.3 million. The city’s total assessment due to valuation rose between 2012 and 2013 by $138 million – .93 per cent – to a total of just over $14.9 billion.