Saturday, July 13, 2024
Highlights 2News

Alleyn and Cawood residents petition for review of property valuation process

Residents of Alleyn and Cawood are circulating a petition to protest what they call “unfair” property assessments conducted across the municipality.
This spring, residents received their letter of property assessment in the mail, only to find the value of their property was scheduled to increase by a rate far higher than they had seen in past years.
According to this assessment, conducted by an MRC Pontiac evaluator, property values across Alleyn and Cawood would go up 370 per cent starting in 2025. This would mean a corresponding increase in property tax — something many residents are not prepared to pay.
Over the past few weeks, disturbed residents have formed a task force to try to combat this problem. They have been circulating a petition online that would challenge the recent property valuation increases.
“We demand the evaluation process be reviewed to prevent future unfair assessments,” the petition reads.
Angela Giroux, the elected chair of the task force, said the . . .

numbers are so high because a single developer is packaging parcels of land at an inflated cost, and that rate has been applied across the entire municipality.
Maggie Early, also on the task force, is a farmer whose family has owned a Cawood Road homestead for over a century. She said this inflated rate doesn’t reflect the actual value of most properties in the municipality, and that most properties in the area are modest retirement homes.
“The average age of a
permanent resident of Alleyn and Cawood is 73,” she said.

“It’s a retirement community.”
If left untouched, these inflated property valuations would leave residents with a lofty tax bill. Early said her annual hit would jump from $4,600 to around $20,000.
“Most people live on pensions,” she said, adding she does not know anyone in the municipality who would be able to afford this kind of increase, including herself.
She said she would need to increase her herd by 70 or 80 head of cattle in order to be able to afford those taxes, something she is not prepared to do.
But according to Isabelle Cardinal, the municipality’s director general, these tax increases won’t come to pass. She said there is “no chance” residents will pay anywhere near a 370 per cent increase.
The municipality has the power to adjust the mill rate for certain property types, lowering the property taxes residents must pay. She said council has discussed adjusting the mill rate for the majority of residential properties, and plans to do so before the 2025 valuations come into effect.
“We’ll make sure tax rates are adjusted,” Cardinal said.
Cardinal is a member of the task force, a group that also includes two council members and six residents. She says the public has expressed concern at the meetings about the so-called tax increases, but she says this is not an accurate description of what is happening.
“I want to stop the misinformation,” she said. “This is not a tax increase, it’s an evaluation increase.”
Cardinal explained these are different because the municipality has the power to mitigate a property valuation increase, but a tax increase is final.
She says valuation increases can have several spin-offs, one of which is increased property taxes. But higher property valuations also affect the amount of school taxes residents pay, as well as the amount of municipal shares that Alleyn and Cawood must pay to the MRC Pontiac.
This is why, she says, the task force includes both municipal council members and local residents. The valuation process impacts everyone, and they want to make sure everyone’s voice is heard.
“Council is working with the task force, and there are elected officials on the task force as well,” she said. “We want to have a positive vibe. We’re all working to fix it.”
With its petition, the task force wants to challenge the way that properties are evaluated in the province. Cardinal will meet with Municipal Affairs Minister Andrée Laforest in the coming weeks, and will ask for a review of the property valuation process.
“It’s a formula, a mathematical process,” Cardinal said.
She previously told THE EQUITY that the municipal evaluator in charge of their file, who has done property evaluations for Alleyn and Cawood for years, suggested to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs that it lower the 370 per cent increase scheduled for 2025, but that the ministry rejected this recommendation.
The task force registered its petition with the Quebec National Assembly, and members are hoping to get the word out there that the evaluation process is outdated.
“The current process is not reflective of the real estate market,” the petition says, noting concern that more land in the Pontiac and beyond is going to be bought by developers and turned into expensive housing.
Early says she and other task force members want to capitalize on this moment and make their voice heard.

“We are the test case,” she said. “It’s going to happen to other municipalities, so we have to set a precedent now. We can’t let this be a standardization.”
Cardinal appreciates residents are becoming involved in municipal issues. She says in her 13 years living in Alleyn and Cawood, she has never seen the community so engaged.
“It’s nice to see the involvement,” she said. “It’s nice to see we have each other’s back.”