Minutes from the Community Committee meeting Sept 7 2011 by CJhb7c3

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									Minutes from the tripartite meeting between the Buffalo Point First
Nations (BPFN), the Buffalo Point Development Corporation (BPDC)
and the Buffalo Point Cottage Owner’s Association (BPCOA).
Date: September 7, 2011
Location: BPFN Administration Office

Participants:
- BPFN, Chief J. Thunder (absent)
- BPFN, Drew Thunder, councilor
- BPFN, Herman Green, councilor
- BPDC, Wyman Sangster, COO
- BPDC, Matt Thunder, Marina Manager
- BPDC, Rudy Fries, Maintenance Forman
- BPCOA, Lee Delorme, President
- BPCOA, Ed Rampl, Vice President
- BPCOA, Gloria Jackson, Secretary
- BPCOA, Randy Lasuik, Director

1. Briefing on fall and winter business plans by the BPDC

a) Wyman gave an update on business activities as follows:

- the conference centre is still taking bookings for events
- staffing and retention issues continue to be a challenge
- all cooking staff quit nearly two months ago and they are currently searching for
replacements
- Chief Thunder is searching for a new accountant and a new chief operating officer
- Major changes are planned for the golf shop operations. Next year the golf shop will be
integrated into the convention centre reception area so that synergies may be obtained in
staffing and servicing the reception counter and golf shop counter. The current golf shop
will only be used by the starter. The bridge connecting hole #18 and the golf course
parking lot will be moved to the east side of the 18th green and a trail will be made to
direct golfers to the convention centre. An automated golf ball machine will be installed
at the driving range. Automated dispensing machines will be added for food and
beverages at the rest stop between hole #7 and hole #12.

b) Matt gave a briefing on marina operations as follows:
- the campground will close on October 3rd
- the marina store will be open until ice fishing starts between 9:30am and 6pm
- they are planning to hold another poker derby and fishing derby next winter
- 32 new campsites are being developed in proximity to where the old galley was
situated. They will be available for rent no later than 2013.



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c) Rudy indicated that fall/winter services are pretty much the same as in previous years.
They have finished the development work for 20 new lake front lots on Buffalo Point
Drive and 13 other adjacent lots.

d) Herman advised the group that the old galley building which was relocated across the
street from the south shore entrance will be used for activities involving aboriginal
programs like daycare, social assistance and administration.

2. Lobbying activities on behalf of BP

Discussions were held regarding roles and responsibilities of each stakeholder with
respect to lobbying activities made on behalf of BP. It is clear that each project should
have clearly defined parameters outlining roles and responsibilities for each party.
Representatives of the BPCOA are not employees of the BPFN, nor the BPDC, and
therefore are not responsible for searching for documentation BPFN and signing
contracts with outside parties.

- the MTS 911 service project was discussed. Ed Rampl arranged for meetings with MTS
and helped negotiate an agreement. Wyman Sangster was responsible for submitting the
appropriate maps, arranging for the signage and signing off on the MTS contract which is
still outstanding.

- future lobbying projects include the museum, possible highway paving upgrades and a
second emergency access road to BP. BPFN/BPDC to develop parameters for these
projects.

3. Update on the proposed aboriginal property tax

Lee provided an update on feedback received from cottagers at the townhall meeting and
commentaries received subsequently as follows:

a) Positive feedback

- cottagers are receptive to having a third party oversight of a proposed tax system by
another level of government. The First Nations Tax Commission (FNTC) has a similar
mandate for tax administration oversight just like Aboriginal Affairs has oversight
responsibility for aboriginal programs and services.

- cottagers are pleased that there is no school tax component to the proposed property tax
system as confirmed by representatives of the FNTC. Wyman Sangster clarified that
although the vast majority of educational costs for aboriginal students are paid for by
Aboriginal Affairs and/or the Board of Education, such costs are not paid for if students
are non aboriginal students. Currently there are no non aboriginal students living in BP.




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- cottagers favor the issue of “no discrimination” against owners. All residents of BP will
be liable for a property tax which includes:
            - all current cottage and lot owners
            - all unsold lots will be charged (close to 200)
            - all businesses including BPDC businesses
            - all aboriginal residents who are property owners

- the proposed tax system as supported by the FNTC guidelines has to be comparable to
RM of Piney. Early indications are that our current annual maintenance assessment of
$876 compares favorably to the RM of Piney property tax rates. Information obtained
from the RM of Piney office indicates that the current residential mill rate, exclusive of
the school tax component, is 12.14. Since all RM’s in the province of Manitoba are
compelled to use 45% of an assessed value for residential housing, this means that any
homes appraised at $100,000 are levied a property tax of $546.30. Correspondingly,
homes appraised at $150,000 are levied a tax of $819 and homes appraised at $200,000
are levied a tax of $1092. Early guesstimates are that the average cottage value in BP will
be somewhere between $150,000 and $200,000. It is also noteworthy to highlight that the
FNTC recently issued a News Bulletin on April 4, 2011, which in essence outlines
guidelines for reserves in setting tax rates in the first year of taxation as follows: “First
Nations entering into their first year of taxation must establish tax rates that are identical
to rates established by the former taxing authority in a current or preceding year or
where there was no former taxing authority, the same rates as the reference jurisdiction
in the current or preceding year. (The reference jurisdiction should be contiguous with
the First nation and have similar service obligations).”

- the mandatory inclusion of the cottage owner’s “representation law” will preserve and
enhance existing leaseholder rights as outlined in our 2008 Rules/By laws.

- the FNTC has expenditure by-laws which in essence restrict annual tax increases to the
annual rate of inflation or the consumer price index(CPI). In the year, the 2011 CPI was
2.4%. The FNTC has responsibility to review any proposals made by a reserve and
decide if any reserve can exceed the expenditure by-law limit.

b) Negative feedback


- concerns expressed over the impacts on market values on existing properties, especially
newer and lakefront properties.

- apprehension regarding BPDC’s ability to sell existing inventories of unsold lots
especially in light of the low sales activity during the last few years and the expected
future trends for recreational property. The introduction of a formalized tax system, even
if it is revenue neutral for the residential component, merely shifts the tax burden to
newer and more expensive cottages and potentially reduces it for older and lower priced
cottages.


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- many cottagers feel that this will not be a financial gain for any of the BP stakeholders
including the BPDC and the BPFN who will be liable for a significant component of the
new property tax levy. As noted in the positive feedback commentaries, the current
revenues from the residential component compare favorably to the RM of Piney’s levy
and ultimately mill rates and annual tax assessments are contingent upon an annual
budget for government services. Annual tax bills cannot be arbitrarily increased at the
request of any individual or committee. Furthermore, in the last round of budget
negotiations with the Community Committee there were only disagreements on $50,000
to $100,000 of proposed expenditures and committee members in attendance had
indicated a willingness to work on these disagreements in the coming year. Formalized
tax administration systems are expensive to develop and expensive to maintain on an
annual basis.

- buyers remorse expressed by cottagers especially owners of newer cottages (wouldn’t
have invested out here knowing that a property tax system was in the master plan).

- many questions and concerns regarding the appraisal of cottages

- many questions and concerns regarding the appeals processes on appraised values.

- many questions regarding mill rates and ballpark figures for the annual tax bill under an
aboriginal property tax system.

- some questions regarding the FNTC, it’s representatives, it’s role and function, etc.

- apparent reluctance on the part of the BPFN to live up to the contractual obligations that
were renegotiated in our 2008 Rules & By-laws.



4. Contracts for a proposed aboriginal property tax system


A general discussion was held regarding potential contracts involving the development of
a property tax system. Wyman Sangster confirmed that a contract for service was
submitted to Chief Thunder regarding the appraising and assessing of all properties in
BP. The BPCOA’s position is that no contract should be made with individuals and /or
business which has a real or perceived non arm’s length relationship with any current or
past employee of the BPFN/BPDC and BP residents. The BPCOA indicated support for a
contract with the provincial assessment office in Steinbach in view of all of the
questions/concerns expressed by cottagers on appraisals and appeals. Wyman indicated
that, in his understanding, the provincial assessment office was more expensive in this
regard. It was agreed that the issue warranted further discussion and that the BPCOA
would outline their concerns to the representatives of the FNTC.


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The meeting ended with a round table discussion from all participants. It was generally
agreed that all stakeholders must continue to work on building a respectful and
professional relationship amongst all members of the committee and that efforts to
improve communications should continue. Representatives from the BPCOA were very
pleased to see the presence of the next generation of the Thunder family and saw it as a
very positive influence. They encouraged their participation in future meetings.




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