Port Hope, ON (Nov. 21, 2013) – The three Ward 2 members of the Area Rating Citizens Working Group (Ian Angus, Bill Bickle and Rick Norman) have formally submitted their area rating tax proposal, “Option 7”, to Council for consideration, prior to the November 15th deadline for comments.
Council accepted the group’s offer to meet with Council and staff to discuss their Option 7 proposal and a meeting was held on November 19th. In attendance was the Mayor, all councillors but one, and a member of the Finance staff.
Former Hope Township Reeve, Ian Angus, led off the discussion with a recap of the talking points from a November 13th meeting with Finance staff at the City of Hamilton to which Mr Angus had accompanied the Mayor, Deputy Mayor, two councillors and a member of Port Hope’s Finance Department. Download the recap of the meeting with the City of Hamilton (in PDF format)
The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing (MMAH) had offered the City of Hamilton as a good example of a municipality that deals effectively with Area Rating. Mr. Angus indicated that the person with whom they had met in Hamilton had reviewed and approved the content of his recap of her meeting comments which Mr. Angus distributed to Port Hope Council at the meeting.
As he left the meeting in Port Hope, Mr. Angus said: “I was pleased to be able to show the councillors how closely our Option 7 matched the area rating principles used by the City of Hamilton.”
In its current form, Option 7 is a draft for discussion, and not finalized as there are some department costs that have not yet been available; however Option 7 can be helpful for producing and communicating a fair, equitable, compliant, easy to understand and easy to implement option for the distribution of tax-burden in the two Wards
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Some Background on Area Rating Citizens Working Group:
The Area Rating Citizens Working Group, appointed by Council met from May 2012 through July 2013. The eight members of the Area Rating Citizen’s Working Group participated in over 20 meetings to review past practices and propose an updated or new approach to area rating taxation.
At the end of the July 22, 2013 Committee meeting, the three councillor committee members arbitrarily announced to the five citizen members that the committee was finished – despite the committee’s mandate being far from complete. The reason provided was because the Group had been unable to provide a recommendation by July 30th.
The Group was informed that the three councillor committee members (Linda Thompson, Rick Austin and Jeff Gilmer) would be handling the public consultation, dealing with the feedback, and making the final recommendation to Council for the Area Rating approach going forward instead of the Working Group. The majority of the committee was to have no say in what would be decided on their behalf. This action was contrary to Council’s direction and terms of reference, and abruptly prevented the citizen committee members from fulfilling the terms of reference they committed to carry out.
The Municipality of Port Hope held an Area Rating Open House on Oct. 21 and presented six options that are effectively all the same: a new Area Rating tax formula which would see municipal taxes increase by 46.9% in Ward 2 and drop by 7% in Ward 1. This new formula does not reflect the recommendations of the citizen members on the cancelled Area Rating Working Group committee.
Three citizen committee members (Ian Angus, Bill Bickle and Rick Norman) still believe in their responsibilities to carry out the terms of reference and to actively participate in the public discussions. They have prepared an “Option 7″ (resulting from the public discussion and feedback) which has been submitted to Council for consideration and adoption.