Fallsview Casino Granted 50 Percent Cut In Property Taxes

Written By Janice Doughtrey

Residents of Niagara Falls should expect higher property taxes this year to compensate for lost revenue from Fallsview Casino’s tax reduction.  The mayor of Niagara Falls says the agency that made the tax cut has unfairly passed the financial cost of housing Fallsview Casino onto community residents.  The local government is fighting the decision, and some members of council suggest they could take their case to the Ontario Superior Court.

The Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) is the agency that assesses both residential and commercial property across Ontario.  The agency agreed with the OLG appeal that Fallsview Casino deserves a property tax cut, and slashed the taxes from $564 million down to $278 million.  Niagara Falls Mayor Jim Diodati says the community will lose up to $3 million in property taxes compared to 2012, and MPAC has passed the cost onto Niagara taxpayers.

“I’m sure this might encourage others to launch their own appeals.  And when people do that it will again be passed on to taxpayers.  They are setting the stage for discontent and for a lot of resentment.”

The property taxes had been challenged by the OLG since Fallsview first opened its doors in 2004, who took the issue to MPAC.  The agency has taken almost nine years to make its decision, partly due to the complexity of adjusting property assessments for businesses.

A commercial property value is determined based on cash flow, annual revenue, and the overall size of the business.  Fallsview, along with Casino Niagara, employ approximately 4,500 people in the community, but over the last few years have lost revenue and customers year over year.  As a result, MPAC instituted a major reduction in property taxes to offset some of the lost revenue, which Niagara Falls Finance Director Todd Harrison says is more than the community expected.

“We were expecting a cut, so we’ve been looking to identify some opportunities to offset that loss through reviewing expenditures and revenue.  But it’s significant when you consider that our total budget is $99 million.  A $2.8-million reduction is a lot.”

Harrison predicts the larger than forecast tax cut means homeowners in the community will pick up the tab.