Buffalo Point Cottage Owner’s Association
Minutes from the Annual General Meeting of May 20, 2012
Buffalo Point Resort Conference Facility
1. Welcoming address:
Lee Delorme, President of the BPCOA, gave welcoming comments to the audience of 140+ cottage owners. Lee gave thanks to all volunteers who participated on the board of directors and all sub committees. He also gave a note of thanks to Joe Bain , President of North Country Websites, for voluntarily converting our association website to it’s original domain, buffalopoint.org, after we encountered some editing issues on the corporate website.
2. Approval of the agenda:
Several amendments were made to the agenda to incorporate some important announcements.
- Motion to accept the agenda as amended made by C. Bewcyk
- Motion seconded by D. Sparks
- Motion accepted by the membership.
3. Secretary’s Report:
Gloria Jackson, Secretary of the BPCOA, read the minutes from last year’s Annual General Meeting (AGM).
- Motion to accept the minutes as read made by A. Johnson
- Motion seconded by Karen Stang
- Motion accepted by the membership
Gloria also made several announcements regarding the upcoming Breast Cancer Tournament on and the BPCOA annual Picnic on June 30th.
4. Financial Report:
Veronica Johnson, Treasurer for the BPCOA, gave a financial update for the past year.
- Motion to accept the financial report was made
- Motion was seconded
- Motion accepted by the membership
5. Update on the proposed aboriginal property tax:
Lee made a presentation on the status of the proposed aboriginal property tax as follows.
A) Background information
- Discussions regarding property tax not new to Buffalo Point as it has been discussed in previous year’s budget negotiations
- Also discussed during negotiations which resulted in the drafting of the 2008 Rules/By-laws
- Decision by the BPCOA membership at the May 2010 AGM to return to the Schedule A budgeting process to arrive at the annual maintenance fee in accordance with the 2008 Rules/By-laws
- Subsequent budget negotiations between the BPCOA, BPFN and the BPDC resulted in the agreement to freeze the annual maintenance fee at $876.50 for the 2011/2012 and the 2012/2013 fiscal years. The BPDC honoured the first year of the freeze and indications are now that they may be endeavouring to renege on the second year of the freeze.
- Subsequent to the finalization of the two year freeze, the BPFN commenced discussions with the First Nations Tax Commission (FNTC) regarding the implementation of an aboriginal property tax for BP. The BPCOA was invited to participate in some of the exploratory meetings with the FNTC.
- A town hall meeting with residents of BP was hosted by the FNTC, the BPDC and the BPFN. It was held on June 10, 2011 and major highlights of an aboriginal property tax regime included the following: no school tax component, no discrimination clause, leaseholder rights protected and enhanced under a taxpayer representation law, annual increases in property tax bills limited to the Consumer Price Index and the property tax rates have to be comparable to the tax rates in the neighboring municipality, i.e. the Rural Municipality of Piney.
- Lee gave a pro forma exhibit of potential tax rates using the 2012/2013 mille rate of 13.12 from the RM of Piney. See exhibit of potential tax rates attached.
- October 26, 2011 Notice of proposed property tax and assessment tax received from the BPFN
- November 23, 2011 Notice of proposed taxpayer representation law received from the BPFN
- December 30, 2012 BPCOA written rebuttal to the proposed aboriginal property tax. Main arguments in opposition to proposed property tax: adherence to the agreement on the two year freeze on annual maintenance fees, the merits of the existing 2008 Rules/By-laws, early estimates are that our Schedule A budget are already comparable to the mille rate in the RM of Piney, and a request for a mediated session between the BPCOA, the BPFN and the BPDC to fully vet the pros and cons of an aboriginal property tax in comparison to the existing 2008 Rules/By-laws.
- January 27, 2012 BPCOA written rebuttal to the proposed taxpayer representation law. Main grievances centered around the undemocratic nature of the proposed taxpayer representation law, the shortcomings of the taxpayer dispute resolution provisions and a request to be comparable to the processes in existence at the RM of Piney.
- April 19, 2012 written responses received from the BPFN in essence rejecting all contents and recommendations contained in the rebuttals submitted by the BPCOA.
- May 18, 2012 lawyer for the BPCOA submitted rebuttals to all proposed laws to the FNTC. The FNTC to respond in the coming months.
C) 11th Hour Negotiations
Lee advised the group that some 11th hour negotiations are underway. The following information has been received:
- the BPDC needs more financial revenues to meet the current financial challenges.
- due to financial pressures, the BPDC is considering reneging on the two year freeze
- if a proposed property tax regime is approved by the FNTC, then the BPFN is considering expediting the normal process to have it applicable to the 2012/2013 fiscal year. In this process, they want to substantially exceed the mille rates as outlined by the RM of Piney. We currently contribute just under $300,000 in annual maintenance fees. The BPDC is looking to charge closer to $480,000 which includes a $100,000 capital reserve fund for upgrading the dump site and expanding the use of the sewer truck services by ending the use of grey water in all cottages.
- we were also advised that under their proposed property tax budget, no cottage owners would get a decrease from the current $876.50 and an abatement would be considered to offset huge increases on the newer and lake front cottages
- the preliminary appraisal/assessment figures for all cottages have been completed by the contract appraisers and anecdotal evidence indicates that the average appraised values of cottages are what we have originally estimated, i.e. in the $150,000 to $175,000 range. Therefore, when we apply the current mille rate from the RM of Piney, the proposed property tax system does not generate much in the way of additional revenues to the BPDC. It is essentially a zero sum gain.
In our discussions with Neil Duboff, the lawyer for the BPCOA, we were advised that cottage owners would have a very good chance of winning an appeal to the FNTC and/or in a court of law, if the BPDC endeavours to exceed the mille rate of the RM of Piney because this would be a direct violation of the FNTC’s published guidelines on mille rates for aboriginal property taxes.
D. Options for the BPCOA membership
Lee advised the membership that we basically have two options in the 11th hour negotiations. The first option is to endeavour to work with the BPDC and the BPFN to arrive at a resolution of the financial crisis all the while retaining and perhaps amending our 2008 Rules/by-laws in the process. The second option is to let the aboriginal property tax roll out and work within the FNTC guidelines to ensure tax rates comparable to the RM of Piney are respected and to ensure that the taxpayer representation law is equivalent to or better than our 2008 Rules/By-laws.
One option offered as a suggestion in the 11th hour negotiations was to have each cottage owner pay an additional $1500 over the next five years ($300 per year) under the condition that all cottage owner leases be rewritten to permanently exclude the aboriginal property tax provision. This option would generate an additional $100,000 per year for the BPDC and ensure that the annual maintenance fee be determined using existing Schedule A budgeting process. In this option, cottagers would pay their lawyer fees in rewriting their lease agreements as well.
A vote was taken by all those members in attendance using a “one vote per cottage” basis. The vote was split 50/50. Forty one cottage owners favoured paying the $1500 and permanently excluding the property tax provision from the existing leases and 41 cottage owners favoured the introduction of a property tax system where the FNTC provides government oversight over the BPFN and a system wherein the tax system parallels the system in place in the RM of Piney.
After further discussion, it was agreed that an offer of Option #1 would be made to the BPDC and, if the BPDC and the BPFN are interested in pursuing this option, then a mail out ballot to all cottage owners would be undertake to determine the level of support for finalizing such an agreement.
The membership was solicited for any other options or recommendations but none were received.
Exhibit #1 Potential property tax bills using the 2012/2013 mille rate of 13.12
Only 45% of the fair market value of residential properties in Manitoba is subject to property tax assessment. Therefore, the formula for calculating a property tax bill is as follows:
Fair market value of the residential property X 45% = the assessable amount divided by 1000 X 13.12 = the annual property tax bill. The following examples are offered for further clarification.
Cottages appraised at $100,000 would be subject to an annual tax of $590
Cottages appraised at $150,000 would be subject to an annual tax of $886
Cottages appraised at $200,000 would be subject to an annual tax of $1181
Cottages appraised at $300,000 would be subject to an annual tax of $1771
Cottages appraised at $400,000 would be subject to an annual tax of $2361
These tax rates are exclusive of the school tax component which does not apply to the proposed BPFN property tax regime for various reasons. Property tax regimes cannot be used to support private schools. The vast majority of the public education costs for residents of BP are currently paid for by Aboriginal Affairs and the provincial government. There are only about a dozen students resident in BP (K-12).
In closing, Lee advised the membership to watch the BPCOA website for announcements regarding the annual maintenance fee for the 2012/2013 fiscal year, any developments in our 11th hour negotiations and for any developments on the proposed property tax.
6. Election of directors for the BPCOA
Lee acknowledged the contributions made by the outgoing directors Ed Rampl and Bruce Smyth. Miles Briggs and Raj Raichura we nominated and elected by acclamation.
7. Membership fees and the litigation fund.
A motion was made by Marion Kwiatkowski to increase the annual membership fee from $10 to $15 as a result of increases costs for postage, etc. There was unanimous agreement.
Another motion was made by Lee to potentially assess cottage owners an additional $100 at a later date in the event that we are forced into litigation regarding the proposed aboriginal property tax and/or the honouring of the two year freeze. There was unanimous agreement.
8. Old business
Ed Rampl gave an update on the 911 Service. Meetings were held with a representative of the MTS to extend 911 Service to Buffalo Point. Essentially what remains is that the BPDC/BPFN have to sign an agreement with the MTS and have numerical property signs made up. Follow up enquiries indicate that very little progress has been made by the administration office since Wyman Sangster resigned last fall. From a BPCOA perspective our obligations have been fulfilled in this regard.
9. New business
a) Volunteers are required to organize the annual BPCOA golf tournament. No volunteers came forward at the meeting.
b) One cottage owner expressed dissatisfaction with the quality or thoroughness of investigations regarding some break-ins that occurred over the winter. Follow up enquiries will be made with the RCMP detachment in this regard.
c) Cell phone service is substandard in the BP area and complaints should be elevated to the MTS in this regard. Although our community numbers are not that significant, reliable cell phone service should be a health and safety issue.
d) Wiband internet service is substandard. Some complaints were made regarding the poor service and reception of internet service. Ed Rampl advised the group that Wiband is experimenting with different technology that is supposedly capable of transmitting through trees/leaves and thereby eliminating the necessity of towers being erected on or beside cottages.
e) Miles updated the group on the open house that was hosted by the RM of Piney. Miles, Lee, Ed Rampl and Wayne Jackson attended the open house and obtained copies of the Waste Management Study. The RM commissioned the study to help prepare them for future capital projects and potentially help them when any provincial grants may be available. Transfer stations seem to be the most economical option wherein waste is trucked to a processing plant in Steinbach. Discussions will undoubtedly be held with the BPDC in this regard in the future.
Motion to adjourn the meeting was made and passed by the membership.