Tumbler Ridge Regional Taxes Increase 26.9 percent

Lynsey Kitching

Though the expected boom for Tumbler has yet to arrive, the town is already seeing their assessment values rise substantially due to lack of housing, housing sale prices increasing and increased taxes to the municipality from industry such as the wind farm. And with two new residential developments underway, assessments may continue to rise.

The Peace River Regional District explains because Tumbler’s assessments have increased substantially, this is why Tumbler’s regional taxes have increased 26.9 percent and the Peace River Regional Hospital District has increased 31.6 percent from $455,231 in 2012 to $599,277 in 2013.

Overall the regional district will be collecting $6,315,638, a 3.9 percent increase from all of the municipalities in the Peace. The main contributors to this include Dawson Creek ($1,622,323), Fort St. John ($2,395,907) and Chetwynd ($1,388,674).

Tumbler Ridge will experience the highest percentage increase, followed by Hudson’s Hope at 14.6 percent.

According to the Regional District, it all comes down to property assessments. The way the region sees it, because we have a higher assessment, we are to pick up a higher portion of the services to become more in line with other communities in the region.

This substantial increase is the main instigator for why our district council revisited our budget and moved some numbers around to keep municipal taxes low, actually dropping for single family dwellings.

The regional services include services such as solid waste removal.

Because of new industry, for example the wind farms, Tumbler Ridge will be collecting more taxes. This then translates into the town having to contribute more to the regional pot.

In regards to the increase to the regional hospital taxation, Northern Health explained they submit their capital budget to the region and tax rates are based around this. The regional district said there are no improvements planned for the health centre here in Tumbler Ridge for 2013.

On top of industry, as stated above, increased regional taxation has much to do with increased assessment. According to BC Assessment, “Our core function is to distribute the tax burden equitably via establishing property assessments. We reflect market conditions (property values) as of July 1st for the year preceding the assessment notices. For the 2013 assessment roll, that means our appraisers are reflecting market conditions as of July 1, 2012 based on the physical condition and legally permitted use at October 31, 2012. In any given year, if the market evidence reviewed by our appraisers as of July 1st indicates property values are rising (appreciating), assessments will reflect this and vice versa (for a declining market). Growth in the assessment roll in general can be attributed to two factors: 1) the market (appreciation in values) and 2) new value to the assessment roll due to things like new construction, zoning changes, and subdivisions.”

In the Peace River Region, resource-based activities such as the mining and petroleum industries are a large factor in the growth in the assessment roll. Given that the supply of land is a finite resource, as demand for property (i.e. housing) increases, values increase. Furthermore, given that the supply of existing housing is limited, as demand increases, eventually so too will the supply of houses (new subdivisions and new construction of homes).

This is being seen in the new townhouses on Willow, and the Monkman Commons subdivision.

As for the average sale price of a home in Tumbler Ridge, BC Assessment explains, “What I can report to you is the market evidence reviewed by BC Assessment indicates the average assessed value of a Single Family Dwelling has increased from $187,900 to $223,800 (19.1 percent), between July 1, 2011 and July 1, 2012.”

As of December 2012, the median sale price in the Peace River District was $291,250 whereas in Tumbler it was $280,000.

There were 141 house sales in Tumbler Ridge in 2011 and 100 in 2012.

Though the regional district would only give comment that tax rate increases were due to assessment increases, BC Assessment says, “Taxing jurisdictions operate independently of BC Assessment.  They make decisions on changes to property taxes rates based upon their operational requirements, regardless of the level of assessment in a given year.  For example, if a taxing jurisdiction determines they require more operational funds, they will increase property tax rates regardless of whether assessments increase, decrease, or remain stable from the previous year. The rate of change in assessments is the only related factor to the amount of a proposed tax rate change, i.e. a proposed tax rate change may be greater (larger percentage increase) if assessments fell, but the operational requirement for the jurisdiction increased.” The large increase to our regional taxes caused our municipal council at the final hour to revisit our budget in an attempt to keep the taxes here in Tumble Ridge stable.

CFO Barry Elliott says, “Though the district council has no control over regional taxation, they want to start having meetings with these taxing authorities primarily the regional district and the hospital district because theirs went up so dramatically. When people see that on their tax bill if they are to call here about the massive increase, all we can really do is say you need to get a hold of the regional district or the hospital district. Council still wants to advocate on the citizens behalf. That is what they will be doing in their discussions.”