Mayor Responds to Tax Report: Farbridge asks staff to review report that Guelph residents pay some of the highest property taxes

Media Appearances, Taxation, Frontier Centre

Mayor Karen Farbridge has apparently asked civic staff to review a recent national report that suggests Guelph residents pay some of the highest property tax rates in the country.

"I have asked our Chief Administrative Officer and Chief Financial Officer to review the report and respond to Council," Farbridge posted online, at Mayor Farbridge’s Blog, Tuesday afternoon. "First, Council needs to understand how the index was developed and whether we agree with the findings.

"Second, if the findings are correct, we need to understand what is contributing to our taxes relative to other municipalities."

Farbridge was not available for comment on Tuesday.

Calls for comment from other civic officials Tuesday also failed to yield any clarity on this subject.

Farbridge’s blog posting seemed to be the official civic response Tuesday to the Local Government Performance Index, prepared by the Frontier Centre for Public Policy. It found Guelph’s 2009 net taxation figure of $3,375 per household per year to be third highest in Ontario.

The study used the 2009 dwelling count provided by Statistics Canada and included all property and other taxes.

However, the report did not account for two-tiered taxation, whereby residents pay a tax to a municipality for some services and to a county or region for other services, such as police or waste collection.

Guelph residents are part of a single tier and taxed at only one level.

The report was highlighted in a National Post story Monday. The initial newspaper report listed Guelph as the ninth-highest taxed municipality but an online copy of the report available on the Frontier Centre’s website lists Guelph 10th.

Farbridge’s blog post asserts that "independent municipal benchmarking in Ontario" would suggest the report’s findings might be inaccurate.

"We have investigated similar types of reports in the past and found errors in data and/or assumptions," she continued in the post Guelph Taxes.

"Council is entering the 2011 budget planning process. This presents a great opportunity to review the findings of the report and ensure we provide good information in advance of budget setting to Council and the community," the blog post concludes.