[FONOM] Groups want cut of mining tax – by Carol Mulligan (Sudbury Star – July 6, 2011)

The Sudbury Star, the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper. cmulligan@thesudburystar.com

The subject of mining taxes may not be on the minds of Sudburians in these long, hot days of summer.

But the president of an organization looking out for 110 municipalities, including Sudbury, says mining taxation hits northern residents right where it hurts — on their property tax bills.

The Federation of Northern Ontario Federation of Municipalities says the Government of Ontario has collected more than $500 million in Ontario Mining Tax revenue in the last five years, and that money is all leaving the North.

Kapuskasing mayor and FONOM president Alan Spacek said this is a “very good time” to ask candidates running in the Oct. 6 provincial election. “It has a real impact on the average homeowner-taxpayer,” said Spacek.

Ratepayers face higher tax bills to support municipal infrastructure such as roads, which are subject to wear and tear because of mining companies.

This is not the first time some northern mayors have asked the province for a percentage of the Ontario Mining Tax. But now the Ontario Mining Association has joined that call.

In a news release Tuesday, OMA president Chris Hodgson said his association wants local municipal and First Nations communities to “have a greater share in the benefits of mining through the existing levels of mining tax.”

Hodgson, a former minister of Northern Development and Mines and minister of Natural Resources in the Progressive Conservative govern-m ents of Mike Harris and Ernie Eves, was not available this week.

But OMA spokesman Peter McBride described the Ontario Mining Tax as a profit-based royalty mining companies pay. Spacek said that tax fluctuates depending on the price of the metal on the market.

The Ontario Mining Tax goes to the general revenues of the provincial government, and is not budgeted for, said Spacek. While he couldn’t estimate what companies pay in mining taxes in the North, he said it would amount to millions a year for northern municipalities.

FONOM and OMA want to enter into discussions with the provincial government over the sharing of this tax money. FONOM is proposing the Ontario Mining Tax be shared with municipalities on new mines that come on stream.

Timmins Mayor Tom Laughren, vice-president of FONOM, says northern municipalities are facing increasing cost pressures to provide vital local services.

“An additional source of revenue would be of great benefit to our people,” said Laughren in the news release.

Not receiving a share of the wealth generated by mining locally has “created significant hardship for all northerners,” said Laughren.

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