City ‘received well’ at AMO conference: mayor

In this January 2017, file photo, Cornwall Mayor Leslie O'Shaughnessy (front, center) as part of the Eastern Ontario Mayors' Caucus. The mayor and caucus chairman believes they have been able to move the needle with MPAC surrounding the assessment appeal process. (Supplied via Newswatch Group, File)

OTTAWA – Cornwall Mayor Leslie O’Shaughnessy says the city has been well received during meetings at the Association of Municipalities of Ontario conference – now into its second full day.

In an interview with Cornwall Newswatch from the conference in Ottawa, O’Shaughnessy said they had the ear of the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) yesterday to talk about property assessments and removing red tape surrounding assessment appeals.

“We did have a very good discussion with all council members, attending the conference, in attendance. We spent an hour with them (MPAC). They were certainly receptive to what we had to say,” O’Shaughnessy said.

He said an example is the Canadian Tire assessment appeal, which took eight years to settle, and cost the City of Cornwall $660,000. The city also has outstanding property assessment cases involving its distribution centers.

The mayor was asked whether the city has been able to move the needle with MPAC.

“I think we have. But then again, time will tell on a go-forward basis. Certainly the willingness to cooperate is there. How that comes into action we’re not quite sure yet,” O’Shaughnessy said.

The issue was also broached with the parliamentary assistant to the finance minister as part of the Eastern Ontario Mayors’ Caucus (EOMC). O’Shaughnessy is chairman of that group.

This morning, the EOMC met with Economic Development Minister Brad Duguid.

“As you know…we have been the leaders in the Province of Ontario in formulating a economic strategic plan for Eastern Ontario. We were unsuccessful through the Eastern Ontario Wardens’ Caucus in obtaining a RED (Rural and Economic Development) grant. We found out last night the wardens’ caucus was not successful. Therefore, we made the pitch to Minister Duguid this morning, also received very well,” the mayor said.

The EOMC is looking for $100,000 to “put us well on our way” and O’Shaughnessy is hoping to have “some sort of direction” from Duguid’s office soon on where to get that money.

Cornwall will be in a meeting this afternoon with Infrastructure Minister Bob Chiarelli.

There has been talk of a one per cent hike in the HST to make a dedicated fund for infrastructure.

O’Shaughnessy said the proposal has not been put out for municipal support, but he believes the tax hike wouldn’t float with some Eastern Ontario mayors. “They may not be in favour of that. I don’t think that they’re looking at the Province of Ontario to raise provincial taxes on our behalf.”

A one per cent sales tax hike by the province would result in an extra $10 million for the City of Cornwall, the mayor said.

The AMO conference runs through Wednesday.