News

County council denies 0.21 tax ratio, look to consider 0.235 at April 11 meeting

By Chris Funston, Woodstock Sentinel-Review

The Oxford County Administration building in Woodstock.

The Oxford County Administration building in Woodstock.

The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) continue to fight for lower taxes for county farmers.

OFA's attempt at lowering farmers' tax ratios to 0.21 this year instead of 0.25 has stalled after Oxford County council voted against the motion 5-4.

The decision came after OFA had asked county council to consider lowering the increases over the next several years after Oxford County farmers paid a record high in property taxes in 2017.

Ben Le Fort, senior policy analyst for OFA, thought the group had clearly laid out the obvious reasons as to why they've been asking for a lower ratio, but councilors didn't feel the same way.

The two sides will look to meet in the middle at the next meeting as council is considering a ratio of 0.235., though Le Fort says even this ratio won't be enough to stop the tax shift.

“Certainly it will mean the continued shift of tax burden on to farmers,” he said.

Last year, farmers paid 7.1 per cent of Oxford County's taxes. If ratios aren't adjusted, by 2020 that amount could rise to 10 per cent.

Le Fort explained that OFA would likely have to come to council again next year for delegation given the nature of how the assessment cycle works.

“A .235 [ratio] would result in more taxes shifting to farmers in 2018. It would be even more shifted in 2019 and 20.”

In 2017, farm property taxes increased by an average of 21 per cent. For 2018, farmers were hoping to pay an increase similar to that of the general levy of around two per cent.