Sep 16 at 7:57 PM

Susan, I understand that council is to discuss the Services Delivery Review at it's September 23 meeting and you are preparing reports for council. I did a bit of research on this and I thought the following information might help you. I was interested in the historical basis for the current regime and I was particularly interested in what services are special rated in other municipalities.


What I found surprised me.



Basis for Current Tax Policy:

As you know, s. 326 of the Municipal Act, 2001 is the authority for a special levy for a service which benefits different areas differently but it only applies after council has identified the service and used some kind of process to determine which of the municipality's costs are related to that special service. Napanee has, as far as I can determine, never done this and, if I'm right, this brings into question the legitimacy of the current regime. I understand that the current service delivery review is designed to bring the tax policy into compliance with s. 326 of the Act for 2015 and I agree it is essential that this be done.


The CAO made reference to the 1997 restructuring order which did permit area rating but only in the old Town of Napanee and only for police services.  The current 32% special levy is for a different area and, as far as I can tell, not earmarked for policing so I don't think the current tax policy is supported by the restructuring agreement.



I gather that the CAO sought legal advice but the opinion obtained was not shared with council.


There may be something I'm missing. The archives on the website contain the minutes but not the by-laws. However, I do notice that on April 28, 2011, there was a resolution changing the surcharge to 32% from 34%. The 2011 taxing by-law is not on the website and I would be interested in knowing whether it designates which special service the 32% levy is for and what the cost of that special service was determined to be.


In view of the election campaign underway and the importance that this issue has to the electorate, I think that council and the public need to know whether there is uncertainty about the legitimacy of the current area rating scheme.  And, I think council itself should receive (in closed session, of course) a copy of all legal opinions on the matter provided to date including the one referred to in the CAO's August 8 memo. Failure to do so attracts public suspicion and mistrust and heaven's knows we have enough of that in Napanee already.


Identifying the Services to be Reviewed:

I understand that part of your task is to identify which services are not equally available in

all areas so that the consultant can be asked to make an estimate of the amount of the disparity, the cost and area affected by each and the extent to which it is already recognized by the assessment process. This is a daunting task and, I would expect, will involve a lot of estimates and judgment calls. Thus, I think it needs to be done carefully and openly and I know several councillors and candidates have expressed the same view.


The CAO's August 8 memo says that the municipal lawyers were of little assistance in identifying which services to include in the special services review. This is not surprising since this is more of an accounting than a legal issue. Since an area benefited must be identified for each special service, it seems to me that the services should be ones where the area benefited can be easily identified. It is easy to determine where sidewalks, street lighting and water/sewer end. But most others, including fire & police services, do not end or change abruptly at any particular line on a map.  It seems to me that some guidance could be obtained from looking at what other municipalities have done in terms of both services identified and amount of surcharge.


I'm not sure if someone there has done this, but here's what I found. I did a Google search using "Municipal Act, 2001" 326 area special 2014 as a search string.



Quite a number of municipalities have special service by-laws for services to be done. These resemble the old local improvement charge by-laws. I could only find five municipalities which had by-laws imposing special service charges for existing services. You may have other resources available to you to determine what others have done and if so you may be able to find other examples.



Each of the five I found has a by-law designed strictly in accordance with s. 326 of the Municipal Act. These by-laws cover such specified services as sidewalks, street lighting and transit where the area benefitted is easy to determine. Two of them (Hamilton & Kawartha Lakes) imposed surcharges for police and fire protection but I am not certain of the local circumstances there. (For example, some areas may have their own police force.) It is significant that none has a total surcharge anywhere close to 32% (the largest seemed to be 10%) and none has a scheme like ours where the amount of the benefit hasn't been quantified and the surcharge isn't designated for any particular service.



Loyalist Twp:

A good example is Loyalist Township which charges Amherstview residents a 1% surcharge for transit.  Nothing else. See page 8 of the following link:




Sidewalk snow

Parkland purchase



Sidewalk levy




Kawartha Lakes:













Port Hope:

Bulky Waste/Christmas Tree pickup


Sidewalk Maintenance






Thunder Bay:

Sewage & Drainage

Street Lighting



To me the list attached to the CAO's August 8 memo needs to reviewed in light of what other municipalities do. Ten of the items on the list are for roads. No other municipality that I could find area-rates roads. And how "livestock kills" made it to the list is puzzling.


Public Input:

This is a highly contentious issue which pits various factions in the community against each other. The danger is that without an open and public process there could easily be allegations that the process has been skewered, the data given to the consultant is suspect and the whole process lacks legitimacy. Indeed this is already being suggested.



Public input is needed from the outset to give the process legitimacy, not only in determining which services are to be reviewed but also the boundaries of the areas benefited by each service, the quantifying of such benefit and, as staff have suggested, the extent to which this is already compensated by the assessment process. And the public needs access to the data provided to the consultant so it can make it's own judgment and the process is seen as fair and open.



I'm not running for office. But I have lived here for 42 years and it's painful to see this issue pitting different regions of the municipality against each other. In my view it has reduced the quality of our governance of our Town and I believe that if it is allowed to fester, it risks tearing our municipality apart. I personally spent a lot of time in the 1990s working on amalgamation. I am sorry that 17 year later, the regions are still feuding and it is painful to watch what is now happening.



We need to do this and do it right and in an open and public fashion.


Hubert Hogle

245 John Napanee ON