The Municipal Property Assessment Corp. (MPAC) has ruled the town of Espanola must pay paper mill Domtar more than $4 million, following a recent property reassessment.
MPAC’s returned assessment of Domtar’s paper mill property was $9,937,000 for the years 2009 to 2012. The original assessed value for these years ranged between $19,000,000 and $26,522,040. The $19,000,000 was the assessed value arising from the previous decision for the years 2006, 2007 and 2008.
The result is a refund of property taxes of approximately $4.9 million, of which $940,000 is the education portion, which will be recovered from the Ministry of Education reconciliation. The town was prepared for a reduction in assessment to the previously determined level of $19,000,000; however, the assessed value is approximately 50 per cent less than what was anticipated.
Calling the news “devastating,” Cynthia Townsend, the municipality’s clerk, treasurer and administrator, said taxpayers cannot be expected to be held responsible for the financial burden.
“This situation identifies critical errors in the methodology used for calculating these values and in funding formulas which do not provide for reconciliations of prior years when such adjustments are made retroactively,” Townsend said in a news release. “Residents simply cannot afford a 50 per cent tax increase for 2013, which is what would be required to fund this liability.”
Mayor Mike Lehoux was equally upset with the decision, noting this would have been the third year there would have been no tax increase for ratepayers.