Trent Ernst, Editor
For the second year in a row, Tumbler Ridge saw a notable decline in the value of its homes, losing 36 percent of their assessed value.
That’s on the heels of last year’s 14 percent decrease, which saw the assessed value for single-family homes fall from a record high of $246,000 in 2013 to $210,000 in 2014.
This year, that value drops from $210,000 to $138,000.
This was the highest drop of any community in Northern BC, beating out Granisle, where home values dropped from $69,000 to $48,000, a decrease of 30 percent.
“The majority of residential home owners within the Northern region can expect a slight increase, compared to last year’s assessment,” says Deputy Assessor David Keough. “Most home owners in the Northern BC region will see changes in the 0% to +10% range. However, there are some home owners that will see an increase higher than 10% while others will see a decrease.”
While individual properties may have seen their value decrease by more, there were only two other communities in the North, and indeed, in the province, that saw overall values drop by more than 10 percent.
These were Fraser Lake, where house values dropped from $156,000 to $126,000, a decrease of 19 percent, and Kitimat, where values dropped from $331,000 to $291,000, a decrease of 12 percent.
The largest increase in property value was in Taylor, where the value of the average home increased from $311,000 to $361,000, an increase of 16 percent. Other multi-digit increases happened in Stewart (13 percent) and Queen Charlotte City (13 percent).
Overall, the Northern BC region’s total assessments increased from $57.3 billion in 2015 to $59.5 billion this year. A total of almost $1.4 billion of the region’s updated assessments is from new construction, subdivisions and rezoning of properties.
Province-wide, the value of properties rose 11 percent, to $1.34 trillion (with a T). Of that, about $20.36 Billion was new construction.
In Fort St. John, the average property value climbed six percent to $405,000, making it the most expensive place to buy a new house in Northern BC. The least expensive place to own property? Granisle.
Commercial and Light Industrial property owners in the north will see a similar increase in the range of 0 to +10%.
Local government uses the assessed values to assign a mill rate, or amount of taxes collected per thousand dollars of assessed values.
Folks in Tumbler Ridge hoping to see their taxes drop 34 percent, though, will most likely be disappointed.
In 2015, the District neither increased nor decreased the actual dollar value collected in taxes based on assessed rates. In 2014, they dropped property taxes for residents by five percent.
While Council has not begun discussing tax rates for 2016, residents should not expect to see taxes drop by much, if at all. While the amount of taxes paid is based on property value, the District needs a fixed amount annually to continue to operate.
As the entire tax base has decreased in value 36 percent, the District has historically just changed its mill rate to hold the actual dollar amount of taxes collected at the same or slightly up or down.
That means if you paid $750 in taxes last year, you can expect to pay about the same this year, no matter what the value of your house is.
The same holds true when the value of property increases. If the value of all properties in Tumbler Ridge increased, on average, 35 percent, the District is going to look at the total amount it needs to collect (based on last year’s budget, plus about three percent for inflation), and recalculate it’s mill rate.
Of course, there are exceptions. If a resident has recently added new windows, repainted, added new siding, and increased the overall value of that specific house, the amount of taxes that person will be paying will go up based on the assessed value of the improvements.
So, when you get your assessment from BC Assessment, you are able to calculate how much you’ll be paying in taxes. Your house is valued at $179,600? Multiply that by the mill rate, and you’ll find out that you’ll be paying nearly the same as last year. The average homeowner of an average home in Tumbler Ridge paid between $850 and $900 in property taxes last year.
Of course that’s only property taxes to the District. Most residents can expect their District tax bill to be around $1500 this year. A portion of that extra money is paid to the Peace River Regional District. Historically, this has added about $20-$30 to each resident’s tax bill.
The District of Tumbler Ridge also collects a portion of taxes for the Regional Hospital, which is another $100 or so.
There’s more: School, Police, Municipal Finance Authority. These all add up, too. And don’t forget Water and Sewer, which are charged separately.
Want to know what the value of your property is worth before you get your assessment? Curious about what your neighbour’s house is worth? Visit bcassessment.ca and check out their free e-value tool, that allows you to check property assessments for any house in the province.