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Elimination of tax breaks means overall Essex county rate lowered

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A new Essex County policy will have a positive impact on the 2024 tax rate.

County council unanimously voted to eliminate the rate subsidy that has been provided for excess commercial, excess industrial and vacant industrial properties during their meeting last Wednesday night.

According to county director of financial services/treasurer Melissa Ryan there are 609 properties within the county that have been receiving up to 35 percent decrease in taxes.

She explained that back in November regional treasurers and tax collectors met with the intention of exploring changes to the 2024 tax policies.

“Several municipalities proposed the removal of the commercial excess and industrial vacant excess discount in 2024,” Ryan said to county council.

Ryan noted that policies for tax assistance for low-income seniors and lower income persons with disabilities will remain the same and there is also the continuance of a rebate for charity organizations.

“I think this is a very good move. I did talk to the Town of Essex staff and it’s something they are happy to see,” said Essex Mayor Sherry Bondy.

She noted that there is not a lot of vacant commercial property in the county and wondered if there was any appetite to increase taxes on those, to which Ryan said that there was not at this time.

“The days of tax breaks for vacant properties are over. As policy makers it’s our job to know where we’re at and know where we’re headed,” said Kingsville Mayor Dennis Rogers.

He commented that there is substantial growth in the region and this could be an incentive for those with vacant properties to build.

“You’ve got to build or get out of the way,” said Rogers. “We need homes, we need businesses and we need industry.”

Bondy suggested earlier that penalties for vacant property should be explored to which Rogers agreed.

Eliminating the tax break for commercial and industrial properties in the county means an additional $189,023 in taxes. Rogers wanted to know where that would be applied.

“What we are doing with the tax shift – it’s actually absorbed fully into the current budget year,” said Essex County CAO Sandra Zwiers.

What this means is there will be a slight reduction in the total tax base from 4.95 per cent to 4.81 per cent increase for 2024.

“That is great news,” said Amherstburg Mayor Michael Prue.

By Fred Groves

Elimination of tax breaks means overall Essex county rate lowered


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