If you’ve been listening to the news lately, you’ll be aware that this year’s property assessments created quite the buzz: in part, because they generally went up across the province; in part, because they once again raised the long standing question of whether or not there is a more equitable way to raise revenues for local governments than simply through property taxes.
The bottom line for Quesnel is that the overall assessed value of the residential property class went up by about three percent, the highest year over year increase in a long time. Some of this increase comes from new buildings and some comes from “desk top” reassessments of every residential property. Apparently, BC Assessment staff examined every residential property in Quesnel using Google maps and determined whether there had been improvements that warranted an upward assessment or any degradation of the property that would decrease its value.
If you have any questions or concerns about your property’s 2016 assessed value you need to contact BC Assessment right away. You can contact a representative by phone at 1-866- 825-8322 or online at bcassessment.ca. If, after speaking with a BC Assessment appraiser you still have concerns then you’ll need to submit a notice of complaint prior to February 1. This will trigger a formal independent review of your assessment by a government appointed review panel.
Please note: neither City staff nor Council are involved in the property assessment process and there is nothing we can do to assist you with your assessed value. If you disagree with your assessment you must file your own appeal by the February 1 deadline; after that you must pay whatever taxes are assigned to your property based on its 2016 assessed value. So, please take a good look at your assessment, check out how other properties around you were assessed (you can do that online at evaluebc.bcassessment.ca), and make your decision about challenging your assessment as quickly as possible.
While the City is not involved in setting property values, BC Assessment’s assessed value of your house does impact your property taxes. It’s a simple, if often misunderstood, formula: your assessed value multiplied by the tax rate Council sets equals your property taxes. Now that we have the assessments for all property taxes (pending any appeals) Council will be deliberating the tax rates it will set to achieve its budget objectives.
Please recall, Council has proposed freezing industrial taxes at 2015 levels in order to attract investment and address a longstanding inequity in the City’s tax structure. Council has also implemented cost savings to avoid a general tax increase in 2016.
However, the City still needs an additional $675,000 per year contribution to its Capital Re-investment Reserve so we can maintain our current infrastructure. The question for Council now is how quickly should we raise those infrastructure funds based on the three percent increase in property values in the City. This discussion will occur at our January 26 Council meeting, if you have thoughts about this important matter, please attend and share them with us.