The Wellington Federation of Agriculture (WFA), in partnership with the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA), is currently doing a cost of community service study in Mapleton.
Cost of community service studies show that the tax consequences of different land uses vary significantly, in terms of both tax revenues received and local government services expenses incurred.
In other words, certain lands have different tax consequences and some lands may produce more revenue than others; whatever revenue the municipality get from that tax class – residential versus farmland versus industrial versus commercial – will be put toward at its own class.
So, residential tax rates will be put toward residential uses, and so forth.
WFA's study looks at farmland and the taxes that that land brings in for the local government, and what kind of services the municipality can offer using farmland taxes for the agriculture tax class.
However, an important aspect to note is that houses on farms are taxed using residential rates, as is one acre of the land a house sits on.
Janet Harrop, president of the WFA, spoke with EloraFergusToday about the importance of the study, harping on the value of the agriculture tax class within Wellington County, specifically the Township of Mapleton.
“The reason we have been advocating on doing this study at Mapleton is because Mapleton is the largest economic driver of agriculture in Wellington County,” said Harrop.
“They have the largest percentage of farms in the county, and they also have two fairly small urban centres. In terms of a tax revenue perspective, the municipality is put at a disadvantage when it comes to receiving dollars from the Ontario municipal partnership fund transfer dollars because the township has additional farmland they cannot use to repair or build roads and bridges.”
Harrop explained that WFA is trying to show the value of the different tax classes through the study.
They’re trying to advocate the use of the agriculture tax revenue for municipal partnership dollars to meet the infrastructure needs in Mapleton such as its bridge and roads projects.
“We’re focusing on Mapleton right now, but we also want to take a look at other municipalities within the county where the Grand River goes through as those municipalities also have a lot of infrastructure deficit requirements each year due to roads and bridge projects,” said Harrop.
“Unless Mapleton and municipalities alike put in tax levies like Centre Wellington did, they’re falling behind all the time as far as rebuilding those bridges go.”
WFA has recently sent out a survey to the county regarding how much farmers utilize some of the infrastructure services like roads and bridges within the municipality as opposed to the general vehicle traffic.
At this point, the study offers no significant budgetary component as it is still in its early stages.
However, a year or two from now, Harrop stated that the WFA will be advocating the municipal partnership dollars that are coming back to the municipality of Mapleton to show the results of the study.
“The end goal of the study is to show the value of the different tax classes; the services each tax class within the municipality generates for the township; and those services the municipality has to provide to those same tax classes,” she said.
“We just want to show where revenue and expenses within the municipality are spent; to get a clear picture from the residential perspective.”
Angelica Babiera, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, GuelphToday.com