My motion to request the repeal of the vacancy tax rebate for commercial and industrial properties passed unanimously. By way of background, the vacancy tax rebate provides tax rebates to owners of commercial or industrial properties which have vacant portions – a rebate of 30% on their property tax. The funding for these rebates comes largely from residential taxpayers as the rebates form part of the Town’s budget for tax adjustments. This means they are funded by the taxes paid by all taxpayers, including approximately 85% by the residential property class.
Many other municipalities in Ontario – including Toronto, Windsor, Port Hope – are requesting eliminating this tax-payer funded rebate plan. I am glad that Aurora is taking a leadership role in York Region; taking the lead in requesting this repeal. It is only fair. As our own staff report states, “… these properties already receive a credit off their assessments for vacancies. A vacancy rebate could then be considered “double dipping”.
While Aurora Council unanimously supports the repeal of the Vacancy Tax rebate, and while the province has indicated that it is willing to look at the vacancy rebates policy. The Province would only make changes which affect the upper tier as a whole, so as we are a lower tier municipality, we need to make the case to the Regional Council; It will be up to our Regional Representative – Mayor Dawe – to represent the interests of the Town and the will of Aurora Council to Regional Council and get the Regions support for Aurora’s position on the repealing of the Vacancy Tax Rebate.