White Rock residents reeling from increases in their residential property assessments may receive some comfort at the Jan. 30 council meeting, according to a report last week by city financial services director Sandra Kurylo.
BC Assessment staff will visit the meeting to give more details about how assessment increases actually impact upon city taxes – and the overall message is that residents shouldn’t panic.
Kurylo’s report also attempted to calm fears in advance of that meeting – in line with recent statements from other cities and municipalities, including Surrey (which, rather than scheduling a specific meeting, has concentrated on informing residents through media and the city website).
High percentage increases in individual assessments issued at this point do not mean an equal percentage increase in city taxes for those properties in 2017, Kurylo explained – a point emphasized in further comment by Mayor Wayne Baldwin.
“Some people are saying ‘my assessment has gone up 40 per cent so my taxes are going to go up 40 per cent’ – that’s not going to happen,” he said.
Kurylo also suggested that assessment figures issued so far this year are not set in stone.
“The assessments that have been released are not the final figure that will be used for taxation,” she said. “The final roll figures will be sent in the spring and these might be modified after the property-assessment appeal process is gone through.”
She pointed out that council has already set a 3.65 per cent property tax increase for 2017.
At the same time, she said, the city has noted an overall increase in White Rock residential property assessments of 38 per cent over 2016. Consequently, only an increase of more than 38 per cent in an individual assessment will trigger an increase of over 3.65 per cent, Kurylo said.
A less-than-38-per-cent increase in an assessment might mean a lower-than-3.65-per-cent increase in property taxes, or even a reduction, she added.
The report also noted that the province has also increased the thresholds of assessed value at which a basic homeowner grant (of $570) or an additional homeowner grant (of $875, for seniors and veterans) would be eliminated.
For basic homeowner grants, this now stands at $1,714,000, and for additional homeowner grants this now stands at $1,769,000.
According to information in Kurylo’s report, the percentage of White Rock single-family homes that exceed the threshold for the basic homeowner grant is 28 per cent, while 25 per cent exceed the threshold for additional homeowner grants.
Baldwin sought, and received, authorization from council to write to the provincial government thanking it for raising the threshold, but suggesting it needs to be raised further.
“It’s a good step, but not enough – we need to do more,” he said.