Overall Property Assessments down in Bonnyville

Bonnyville Town Council heard from property assessors, Accurate Assessment Group at Tuesday’s Council meeting. The news from the assessors was not surprising to the Council, overall residential property assessments has gone down an average of four percent. Three important factors to note for property owners, explains Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) for the Town of Bonnyville, Mark Power is that 1. Assessments help determine how much property taxes are to be paid. 2. The Town must collect the Province’s Education Tax in the property taxes. 3. Assessments are done a year behind.

The Town of Bonnyville held the line on their mill rate, to determine property taxes municipalities multiply the mill rate by the assessed value of the property. “The other [factor in taxes], which we cannot control, at all, is the school tax,” CAO Power says this is a Provincial Tax set by the Alberta Government, but then passed down to the Towns to collect from the people. “We don’t have the luxury of setting [that rate]. Our school tax went up 19.5 percent on residential and a 17.05 percent increase on non-residential.” This is an exceptionally high increase.

Although the Town tried its best to do its part by keeping the tax rate the same, and your property assessment is likely to go down, you may still see an increase in your overall tax bill thanks to the Province’s Education Levy. “When you get your tax bill this year, for residential, the increase is going to be because of the school tax,” states Power, “we didn’t add anything, the municipal increase was kept at zero.”

When residents, or businesses owners, receive their assessments they may be shocked to find the value hasn’t dropped as much as they had thought it would and that is because assessments are always a year behind.  Assessments for 2016 taxes are done in 2015; properties sold up to the end of June are included in the assessments and new builds, residential or commercial are assessed at the building’s condition at the end of June. If a building is only the foundation in June that’s the value of the building, the following year if the building is complete the value will likely jump up exponentially. It’s important to consider these factors because as of the end of June 2015, the economy had dropped; however it had not dropped as much as it has now.

The Town anticipates the current year’s assessments, which will determine 2017 taxes, to be even lower than this year. Budgeting and planning for that decrease is key, when overall assessments go down the Town receives less tax dollars, which in turn affects the services and programming the Town is able to provide for the residents. Like any good double-edge sword, a tax decrease may feel good on the resident’s pockets, but it could hinder the progress of a community. Further, if the Education Levy continues to rise, municipalities may collect less taxes for the town, yet the property owners may be paying more taxes on their bills.

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