Residential taxes are going up in Windsor, despite overall zero per cent increase

·2 min read
Windsor city council discusses the 2021 Tax Policy Report during their May 3, 2021 meeting. (City of Windsor - image credit)
Windsor city council discusses the 2021 Tax Policy Report during their May 3, 2021 meeting. (City of Windsor - image credit)

Windsor city council has passed a 2.4 per cent tax increase for residential taxpayers, despite previously announcing taxes would be frozen at zero per cent.

In February, council approved the city's proposed 2021 budget — centred around a freeze on property taxes — after the province took $10.5 million less in its education levy. Instead, that money was applied to some of the city's other expenses.

However, this year marks the first time that the province has put conditions on that, Windsor's city treasurer explained during Monday's city council meeting.

"This year's education levy reduction ... was specifically targeted to the commercial/industrial class — and not necessarily across all tax classes as it's been done in the past," said Joe Mancina.

Dilkens says the allocation of extra funds from the reduced education levy is left solely up to the province and that the city is not being 'deceptive' by increasing residential taxes.
Dilkens says the allocation of extra funds from the reduced education levy is left solely up to the province and that the city is not being 'deceptive' by increasing residential taxes.(Jonathan Pinto/CBC)

As a result, the average residential taxpayer "with a home valued at $150,000 taxes" would see a 2.42 per cent increase (about 64 dollars), according to Windsor's 2021 Tax Policy report.

But city officials remained firm that its overall tax levy would not be increasing. Therefore, to offset the residential tax increase, commercial businesses and office spaces will see a decrease of about six per cent. Industrial businesses will also see a similar tax decline.

"The decrease in total tax rate for the business classes is a direct result of the reduction in education rate as set by the province and is directly targeted to reduce the overall tax burden to the business classes," the city's 2021 tax report reads.

There's an upside for residential taxpayers, however, since the province has placed a hold on 2021 assessment updates.

That means "new assessment values will be once again delayed" and municipal property tax assessments will not increase despite home values getting higher.

When we say zero, we are not spending more this year net than we did last year — and that has been the number we have always looked at - Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens

The Ford government, Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens noted, is responsible for defining which tax class will see cuts and increases. He added that anyone who looks at the 2.42 per cent increase as a "deceptive" move by city council needs to think otherwise.

"When we say zero [per cent tax increase], we are not spending more this year net than we did last year — and that has been the number we have always looked at," said Dilkens.

"What is the amount that we're levying to the tax base? How that shakes out to the different classes is not something you can determine with precision on budget night. It's impossible."