The city’s finance manager is warning Cornwall could be at risk of losing out on millions of dollars in assessment through appeals that could be filed in the coming weeks.
Maureen Adams told the city’s budget committee Friday the March 31 deadline to file assessment appeals is looming large, and given the assessment hike nearly every property owner in Cornwall is grappling with sets the stage for big dollar losses.
“We’re going to see in the next 30 to 60 days…people file appeals of their assessment,” she said. “We’ve had a couple of fairly big changes in assessments on properties.”
That’s for sure.
Adams took a random sampling of 10 high-end commercial properties in Cornwall, and a report she provided to the budget committee suggests their assessment will increase by a whopping $98 million from now until 2016.
There is a risk that several of these 10 properties may file an appeal to challenge their assessed values.
If the current value assessment goes up by $10 million, that results in about $300,000 extra in city coffers.
But here is where it gets sticky for the city: Cornwall bean counters must tax based on the numbers they are provided with by the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation right now.
Appeals can take three or four years to complete. If an appeal is successful, after three or fours years the city may have to write-off close to $1 million, based on the extra $300,000 it received year over year, as an example.
“We need to closely monitor what is going on in those areas,” said Adams.
In 2012 the city had to write-off about $720,000 after NavCanada successfully appealed its assessment.
The city often consults with MPAC to determine how the property was originally assessed to mitigate these types of problems.
The city has established a financial plan to soften the risk of potential large tax write-offs by setting up an allowance or a reserve.
Mayor Bob Kilger said the problem is not specific to Cornwall alone.
“It would seem within the commercial side of things – we’re finding that increasingly sectors are becoming better organized," he said. "Other sectors are preparing their cases. It’s not just happening in one community, it’s happening across the province.”