In addition to the larger stories, other items go through Thorold City Council and General Committee. Some may be important to someone affected and others are just a little interesting. The following are some of those items:
- Lynne Cunningham, Municipal Relations Representative for the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) was at Council Tuesday night to explain how property tax assessment works: 1) MPAC is a not-for-profit corporation with 1,700 employees with a 15-member board of directors appointed by the Minister of Finance; 2) Besides assessing properties, they also compile the preliminary voter’s lists and information for jury duty; 3) Properties are assessed every 4 years and the next will be done in 2016 for the 2017-2020 tax years; 4) An increase in assessment does not necessarily mean an increase in property taxes (property taxes are charged on the basis of $x for every $y in tax assessment according to how much money the municipality’s budget requires, so a raise in assessment won’t affect your taxes as long as all assessments go up by the same percentage); 5) MPAC use statistical analysis to determine the value of a property, using the original value and sales figures of like properties in like neighbourhoods; 6) Assessments will be out early in the year and it costs $75 to appeal, which must be done before March 31; 7) Councillor Handley noted that a number of people were upset that Resolute Paper Products was able to appeal their property taxes for a number of years back on the basis of unused space, which Mayor Luciani pointed out will cost the residential tax payers who will have to cover the repayment of past years. Ms. Cunningham pointed out that the difference is that residential taxes are based upon property value while business taxes are based upon the money-earning value. (It would be nice if we could get away with that as residential taxpayers though. When the kids move out, all we would have to do is close the door to a couple of rooms and say they’re no longer in use to lower our property taxes.)
- Councillor Neale asked that efforts to provide more parking downtown be sped up. He asked too that staff look into 4×4 and other vehicles causing crop damage alongside the rail trail near the 406 and Kottmeir Road as well as speeding by boats on Chippewa Creek which Councillor Wilson noted is restricted to 9 km/h within 50 metres of shore. Councillor Neale also brought up excessive party noise by students on Winterberry Blvd.
- Councillor Paone asked to revive the discussion of licensing student residences. Planner Adele Arbour informed Council that it was in fact almost ready, with staff doing last-minute checking for challengeable items and should be ready by October.
- Mayor Luciani addressed all the early concern about returning students and informed Council that complaints are handled by Niagara Regional Police for the first month, adding that there would likely be numerous phone calls and emails to Councillors for the next weeks, “We’re all going to hear it.” Planner Arbour noted that complaints concerning students should go through their department as they are set up to decide how to deal with each complaint. Councillor Whelan asked that staff invite an NRP representative to speak to Council concerning students.
- Asked for an update concerning lighting on Decew Rd. to Merrittville Highway, Operations manager Mike Sawchuk informed Council that it would require 30 streetlights and 5 new poles plus cabling and a new transformer. The cost would be about $55,000 which is not in the 2015 budget, but the contractor can start on it right away if Council would vote for the budget overrun. Mayor Luciani asked for a report with all the particulars for the next Council meeting. Asked about a grant to make all improvements to that stretch of roads, Deputy Clerk Donna Delvecchio informed Council that one is in the works in partnership with the Region and Brock University’s support and she believes it has a chance of going through.
- The TAAA received permission last night to put an ATM at the Arenas. (Now you won’t be able to use the excuse that you didn’t bring any money.)
- The Red Scarf campaign for AIDS/HIV awareness received approval from Council in case you wonder why red scarves are popping tied to trees and posts around town.
- Council approved two contracts for foundation repairs/waterproofing and roofing after a discussion over whether the money should be spent since Council hasn’t decided to do with it. The cost was included in the 2015 budget.