Payback can be sweet, whether figuratively or literally.
During a recent committee of the whole meeting, Coun. Gibb Wishart brought forward resident correspondence relating to a letter to the editor at the start of this year, which noted a 64 per cent increase in taxing aggregate operations elsewhere in the province.
“Judging by the effort of the two operations we have in Tiny on French’s Hill, I think there’s a considerable amount of revenue that we’re simply not taxing correctly,” said Wishart. “Now I’m not a whiz when it comes to taxing, but when I hear that another municipality took a tax per acre from $9,200 to $15,000… that gets my attention.”
Last year, an Ontario court ruled that gravel pits in Wellington County were assessed too low by the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) and owed millions of dollars in backdated property taxes.
Oro-Medonte resident Doug Varty noted in his letter to OrilliaMatters, “If one applies the income approach (in MPAC’s Methodology Guide for Mining Properties) and considers that these aggregate mines are businesses that generate millions of dollars of revenue over the lifespan of the mine, then it is possible and quite likely that the value of the aggregate properties far exceeds $15,000/acre.”
Tiny Township is the host to two aggregate wash water facilities: Teedon Pit owned by Dufferin Aggregates at 40 Darby Road, and Waverley Pit No. 2 owned by Sarjeant Company Ltd at 1379 Baseline Road South.
Judith Grant of the Federation of Tiny Township Shoreline Associations forwarded Varty’s letter to Tiny council, stating, “Apparently other municipalities are finding ways to receive more income from the depredations of gravel companies.”
That was enough to catch the interest of everyone on council. Wishart commented that having spent money on lawyers and consultants, he would like to see the township “follow the ball” and look to get a return.
“Also, I’m in favour of making sure the two entrepreneurs in the gravel business know that I will personally put as much effort into making their life difficult as possible,” Wishart punctuated with a hearty laugh.
Deputy Mayor Steffen Walma noted that a request was made at a previous Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) conference to have a deputation regarding the issue, adding that aggregate operations “are taxed at 25 per cent residential, the same that agricultural land is.”
“To clarify, my intent would be that they’re taxed at the industrial rate because in my opinion it’s an industrial operation,” said Walma.
Coun. Cindy Hastings also supported looking into the matter as well as a further deputation at conferences for AMO, Ontario Goods Roads Association, or the Rural Ontario Municipal Association. Additionally, Hastings inquired about road repair and improvement made by aggregates throug the Ontario Aggregate Resources Corporation.
“We get funded for an amount of money per tonne that is shipped out of the pits that they have to report to and we get a cheque annually,” explained public works director Tim Leitch, who stated that revenues were increasing as aggregate volumes increased due to inflation and updated accounting.
Mayor George Cornell added his support for “investigating this further in terms of fairness with respect to assessments and therefore taxation”, and noted that upon reading the email he had spoken to Tiny CAO Robert Lamb about it as well as to Simcoe County CAO Mark Aiken.
Council asked staff to explore the Wellington County cases, and to report back with their findings at a later date.
Archives of council meetings are available to view on Tiny Township’s YouTube channel.