I feel I must comment on Brian Sipe’s recent letters to Tumbler Ridge and Dawson Creek newspapers in which he rails about the property assessment increases and the recent hike to the Mayor’s stipend in Tumbler Ridge.
For a start, Brian, you know very well that that local council has nothing to do with determining property values. Property assessments are done by those mysterious bureaucrats in Victoria, who research the recent selling prices of houses in Tumbler Ridge. The fact that house prices here have soared over the past year is not something that can be blamed upon our local council, other than to suggest that, well, geez! maybe Mayor and council are doing such a good job at promoting Tumbler Ridge that folks are now willing to pay reasonable market values for houses here. And by any yardstick, Brian, if your house is assessed in the sixty-thousand dollar range, that still is a bargain compared to, well, virtually anywhere else in the world! And aren’t you glad that you bought your house when you did, at a fire-sale price?
I moved to TR in November of 2003, paid a little more than twice what my house had sold for three years earlier, and still consider that I got a bargain. And I’m glad that I moved here when I did; if I had waited one year I probably wouldn’t have been able to afford my home – I think that it’s worth way more today than what I paid 14 months ago (but Asst! don’t tell the BC assessment board – they assessed it waaay less than what I think it’s worth!). At least now when they drag me off to either the mortuary or an old folks’ home, my kids will have a better inheritance when they sell my house.
The other point, too, about property assessments is that increased assessments do not necessarily mean increased taxes – council can always lower the mill rate to mitigate for the increased values. But we must remember that a large portion of our property taxes go to the area school division – another bunch of mysterious bureaucrats in places extant. And my experience with school taxes is that school boards always rake in the extra money that increased property values bring – another thing that local council has no control over.
And regarding the stipend increase for the Mayor, I support that. In my opinion, the position has been under-funded, so an 85% increase at this time may sound large, but if the position had been properly remunerated in past years, we wouldn’t be quibbling about a modest increase right now, any more than we have any problem with the 1.9% increase that the councillors are getting.
Individuals may have certain problems with Mayor and Council, but to a relative newcomer looking at the overall picture, Tumbler Ridge seems to be a well-run little town and I don’t mind paying for that.