The City of Greater Sudbury has gone through Tribunals Ontario seeking assessment information regarding mining companies’ properties in the municipality.
“The matter in question relates to an ongoing assessment appeal before the Assessment Review Board,” a city spokesperson told Sudbury.com in declining an interview request.
“We’re not able to speak to this as it’s an ongoing litigation matter.”
The spokesperson did, however, clarify that “all classifications and assessments” for properties in the province are determined by the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC), from which the city has been seeking assessment information through the courts.
“An assessment appeal process is available to property owners, municipalities and interested parties to ensure that properties are assessed and classified in accordance with the provisions of the Assessment Act. Like other municipalities, the city actively participates in the assessment appeals process as a means to protect the assessment base for the municipality.”
The city filed an order for disclosure through the court on Aug. 4, and was issued a decision on Sept. 18.
In the decision, MPAC was ordered to provide the city with three of nine disclosure requests the city submitted regarding various properties owned by Vale Canada Ltd., Glencore Canada Corp., and Xstrata Canada Corp.
Included in the information the courts ordered MPAC to provide the city are sales verification questionnaires on various property sales, including those listed as “excluded” from analysis. As noted in the disclosure, five pages of properties were excluded from analysis, and the city is seeking an explanation for their omission.
Sales verification questionnaire are affirmed or sworn statements regarding the sale of property
MPAC has also been ordered to provide the city with their 2016 automated cost systems cost rates “in a legible format.”
The disclosure reports that the city received a response to this inquiry in a freedom of information request, “but the document is illegible and cannot be analyzed.”
“The city’s expert has provided evidence disputing both the cost and components used by MPAC in its valuation,” according to the disclosure.
“The city disagrees with the components and rates used by MPAC. The city argues that MPAC used the wrong assemblies and rates.”
Assemblies are defined by MPAC as “building features.”
“The city is challenging the rates used by MPAC to cost structures on the subject properties, as well as the assemblies used,” according to the disclosure request.
The province’s latest reassessment year was 2016. Reassessments are typically done on a four-year cycle, but the pandemic delayed matters. On Aug. 16 of this year, the province filed a regulation to amend the Assessment Act to continue postponing reassessments to the end of the 2021-24 cycle.
The total amount of municipal taxes paid by mining companies dropped between reassessment cycles, according to numbers provided to Sudbury.com by the city.
In 2012, mining companies paid the city $14.3 million.
In 2016, mining companies paid the city $13.8 million, followed by $13 million in 2017.
This year, mining companies paid the city $17.9 million.
As a percentage of total municipal taxes levied in Greater Sudbury, mining companies paid 6.66 per cent in 2012, which dropped 5.79 per cent in 2016 and then 5.23 per cent in 2017.
This year, mining companies contributed 5.4 per cent of total municipal tax revenue.
In the court order issued Sept. 18, MPAC is required to provide the requested information to the city within 20 days.
Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for Sudbury.com.