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Alleyn and Cawood property valuations set to increase by 370 per cent next year

Municipality’s shares paid to MRC already more than doubled this year based on higher assessment

by Charles Dickson
Danford Lake
May 6, 2024
When Angela Giroux opened her municipal tax bill in February, she couldn’t believe what she saw. On a second page entitled “Notice of Assessment” she read that the assessed value of her property would be going up by 370 per cent in 2025.
“My property is currently evaluated at $202,000. With this increase of 370 per cent, my evaluation next year will go up to $748,000,” Giroux told THE EQUITY last week. “So, my taxes will go from $2,300 a year to like $8,545!” she said.
“I just retired. I have a pension. I’m a lot better off than some. But we have elderly ladies in this community who don’t even have a CPP. You know, they were housewives, they can’t pay money like that on their tax bill,” she said.
Giroux’s first move was to contact the MRC but was told she should take the matter up with Alleyn and Cawood’s municipal council, which she did by showing up at its April meeting accompanied by a few other concerned ratepayers.
“When we went to our council they said, ‘We don’t set those evaluations. They come from the MRC. There’s nothing we can do about it,’” Giroux said.
“We said, ‘No, the council and mayor need to be proactive and stop this before it’s implemented. We need some action, and we’re giving you one month. If you don’t come back with progress, the taxpayers will take the next steps,’” she said.
That month came to an end this Monday evening when approximately 60 residents of Alleyn and Cawood filled Bethany Hall for the May council meeting. Isabelle Cardinal, the municipality’s director general, arranged for the meeting to be moved to the larger venue in anticipation of the larger-than-usual public attendance.
“Ratepayers are clearly shocked and scared about this, which I completely understand,” Cardinal told THE EQUITY last week. “I’m a ratepayer here, and I don’t want to see this huge evaluation.”
“So, I’m happy we’re having this conversation and these discussions around the council table early so we can get ready and we can do our homework,” Cardinal said.
The director general explained that the pandemic created a lot of demand for property in the Pontiac from people wanting to relocate to the country. In Alleyn and Cawood, this expressed itself in the sale of 120 lots over the past few years.
Mayor Carl Mayer told THE EQUITY that the biggest problem is that one-acre lots with municipal valuations of $12,000 sold for $50,000 each. Cardinal agreed that the high prices paid for properties is what led the evaluator to arrive at the figure of a 370 per cent increase.
“But the evaluator suggested to [the Ministry of] Municipal Affairs that maybe we should consider lowering it because this is something that is happening in a specific timeframe, and he doesn’t know if it’s going to last, whether we’re going to continue to have all these sales all the time. So yes, he had suggested to consider lowering it, which was rejected by Municipal Affairs,” Cardinal said.
“Which is why I would like to meet with Municipal Affairs to understand why the recommendation from the evaluator was rejected. That’s my first question. I want to know why, because he has a good understanding of our real estate market and our municipality, and has been our evaluator for many years,” Cardinal said.
The director general told THE EQUITY she hopes ratepayers will have confidence that the municipality is trying to do everything possible.
“We are fighting, and this is my top priority, and we’ll see what we can do. But it’s something so much bigger than us,” Cardinal said.
“A lot of people don’t understand the evaluation process. I get ratepayers asking me if the council voted for this. No, this is not political at all. This is totally administrative. Council didn’t have a vote on it. The municipality didn’t have a say on it. It’s very like external from us.

“The evaluator does the analysis of the real estate market compared to our current evaluation, and comes up with these figures, and submits them to Municipal Affairs, which they approve or deny, but the municipality is in no way involved in this process,” she said.
At Monday evening’s council meeting, Cardinal explained that a key component of the problem seems to be that high sale prices for vacant lots has resulted in increased valuations for all property types including houses, cottages and forestry lots. She said that the evaluator now plans to analyze each property type on its own which should result in a different comparative factor for each category, not one general average for all categories combined.
Cardinal also told the meeting that she, the mayor and a councillor had met with Pontiac MNA André Fortin last week and that he was totally supportive.
“They are rightfully concerned with the recent and drastic increase in municipal evaluations,” the MNA told THE EQUITY on Friday. “This situation is out of their control. Municipal evaluations are handled by the MRC and are the furthest thing from a political process.”
“In this case, the evaluator was forced to look at the recent price of land and housing sales in the municipality, and compare it to the current municipal evaluation. This has resulted in evaluations increasing by 3.7 times the current value, which is more than twice what any other municipality in the region has experienced,” Fortin said.
“This is completely disproportionate, and will have a major impact on school taxes paid by local residents, all because one single development project has significantly higher prices.”
“The main issue here is that the drastic increase in sale prices in the area is mainly driven by a number of lots being sold in new housing developments. The municipality has reached out to Municipal Affairs to see if the overall increase can be adjusted downwards, as it is not representative of what is really happening in the municipality,” he said, adding that he would also be contacting Municipal Affairs.
Fortin also said that municipalities have the power to decrease their mill rates to ensure most residents don’t see major shifts in their municipal taxes, and that he believes Alleyn and Cawood is planning to adjust their rate significantly. At the Monday evening meeting, both Mayer and Cardinal confirmed they are looking closely at that option.
While Angela Giroux agrees that lowering the mill rate could offer temporary relief to municipal ratepayers, she said it would have to go down a long way to neutralize the effect of the higher evaluation. Regardless, she said, school taxes would still go up because they are based on the evaluation.
At Monday night’s council meeting, Giroux said she had found information on the MRC website that indicates that Alleyn and Cawood will pay municipal shares to the MRC that are more than double what it paid last year.
“We were advised that the increase of 370 per cent would be implemented in 2025, but when we look at the MRC budget for this year, Alleyn and Cawood is paying shares to the MRC based on the comparative factor of 3.7, which is 370 per cent. Our shares to MRC last year were $112,000. This year they will be $289,000, a difference of $176,000. So, we are already paying based on that inflated value of 370 per cent,” she said.
“This is much bigger than Alleyn and Cawood. This is across the Pontiac,” Giroux told THE EQUITY. “Everyone is going to be getting these increases. Five municipalities out of the 18 already got theirs in 2024. Thirteen of the municipalities don’t even know about it yet. Maybe they won’t get an increase of 370 per cent, but they’re going to be substantial.
“Pontiac is one of the poorest MRCs in Quebec. People who live here, they can afford to own their own homes because the property values aren’t inflated, their taxes aren’t as high. But, if this is implemented, it will be devastating to many people, it’s going to be devastating for the whole MRC,” she said.
At Monday evening’s meeting in Danford Lake, many in the audience expressed frustration with the situation and strongly urged Mayor Carl Mayer to step up at the MRC and fight back.
“We need you to get all the municipalities to work together to fight this,” someone in the audience shouted amid cheers and applause.

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