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County hosting Public Information Centre to seek feedback about vacant unit property tax rebate program

Posted on Thursday March 01, 2018

Cobourg, ON – March 1, 2018 –  On March 21, Northumberland County will host a Public Information Centre to seek feedback about a program that delivers tax rebates to owners of vacant commercial and industrial properties. This event will take place from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. at the Northumberland County building at 555 Courthouse Road, Cobourg.

“The County and member municipalities are reviewing the implications of eliminating the Property Tax Rebate Program for Vacant Units as part of efforts to better encourage use of such properties for the benefit of the community,” says County Finance Director and Treasurer Glenn Dees. “We are seeking input from business owners and members of the general public about their experience and thoughts related to this program in order to inform a final decision.”

Currently, building owners can apply for an annual property tax rebate of 35 per cent for vacant industrial space and 30 per cent for vacant commercial space. This rebate program was originally established by the Province to compensate property owners for tax increases resulting from property tax reform in 1998. Since then, property assessment methods adopted by the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) - whose assessments form the basis for property taxation—have, to a large extent, essentially resolved this issue. This is also not a benefit which is afforded to other property classes such as residential or multi-residential properties, which may experience a similar form of vacancy from time-to-time.

Recouping the cost of program rebates results in increased property taxation to Northumberland’s other tax classes—primarily residential—with the combined upper-and lower-tier municipal impact totaling $269,208 in 2016. Considering this, along with the concern that this program may in fact discourage property development, hindering economic/community growth and development goals, local municipalities are evaluating opting-out of—or phasing out—this program.

During the Public Information Centre on March 21, attendees will have the opportunity to attend a short presentation at 5:30 p.m. by the County Treasurer about the background on this program and the reasons for change, as well  as connect directly with experts and Treasurers from various local municipalities and the County. People will also be invited to complete a survey in order to provide formal feedback.

For those unable to attend the Public Information Centre, feedback may be provided through an online survey, which will be available as of March 7 at The survey period will close March 30. 

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