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Tax assessment appeals loom large over Hamilton’s 2018 operating budget

Councillor Chad Collins says tax reassessments are "unpredictable" and "one of the greatest threats" to Hamilton's budget process.
Councillor Chad Collins says tax reassessments are "unpredictable" and "one of the greatest threats" to Hamilton's budget process. Chad Collins

Hamilton’s general manager of finance says the city faces “significant challenges” related to property tax assessment appeals.

Mike Zegarac says almost 500 outstanding appeals of 2017 taxes by industrial and commercial property owners include “virtually every mall and office building” as well as major industries including Dofasco, Stelco and Canada Bread.

READ MORE: Hamilton out millions as vacant Stelco lands drop in value

That breaks down to 166 assessment appeals by industrial property owners and 313 appeals within the commercial sector.

Zegarac suggests there’s an industry of appraisers “that exists to try to benefit commercial, industrial property owners.”

READ MORE: Burlington’s $68.6-million capital budget approved for 2018

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Councillor Chad Collins describes it as “one of the greatest threats to our budget process.”

He stresses that the successful appeals “are unpredictable and can swing wildly from one calendar year to the next.”

Zegarac adds that Hamilton’s proposed tax assessment growth is one per cent for 2018 but would have been much higher, in the range of 1.5 per cent, without the successfully appealed assessments and the impact will be felt by residential taxpayers.

READ MORE: New tax assistance program aimed at Hamilton seniors

As city councillors start deliberating the 2018 operating budget, Zegarac notes that the potential residential property tax increase is 2.3 per cent, or $77 for the “average” household, because of a $23 million shortfall.

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