Property assessments have been sent out and though some property values are going up more than 100 per cent, Moose Javians shouldn’t sweat it over any potential tax increase.
That’s the message Garry McKay, Moose Jaw’s city manager, was stressing in a sit-down discussion with the Times-Herald Friday.
“Every four years, it’s mandated by the province that there be a re-evaluation,” explained McKay. “A reassessment year is revenue neutral, meaning there are no additional taxes collected, but there is a shift ... The message today is that property reassessment does not equal property taxes.”
The purpose of the reassessment is to adjust property values and make sure that everybody’s lot is priced correctly, the city manager said, not to increase taxes.
“(A tax increase) is what people think about during a reassessment year, so we’re getting a lot of calls from people saying, ‘My taxes are going up 100 per cent,’” added McKay.
“No, they’re not.”
“This is the fifth time the city has been through this, so we were a little bit surprised at the number of calls,” he said. “But this is the first time of those five cycles that there were such significant increases, so people became afraid.”
To determine if they can expect a tax increase, residents can look at their assessment and compare their property value increase to the average of 86 per cent.
“For residential property, if you’re above 86 per cent, that does signal your property value has gone up faster than others and there will be a tax increase due to the greater value,” McKay noted. “If you’re at 86 per cent, there shouldn’t be much change at all. If you’re below 86 per cent, and your property hasn’t grown as much as the average, there will be some adjustments to drop it.”
He added that the city is avoiding assigning specific increases to specific property values until it is determined how many residences belong in each category — above, below, and at the average of 86 per cent.
“We’re staying away from exact numbers until everything is batched, because it’s not a straight relationship ... it depends on how many properties are in each of the ranges,” McKay said.
“The first 86 per cent is neutral in terms of tax shifts.”
McKay said the same rules will apply to commercial properties, but the average increase in value is lower at 41 per cent. People who are unhappy with their assessment can file an appeal, the city manager added, but encouraged those who are unhappy to first consult with the assessors, Saskatchewan Assessment Management Agency, by calling them at (306) 694-4425.
“If they’re happy, then they understand the number is correct,” McKay said. “If they’re unhappy, then they can take their notice of appeal, fill it out, and submit it.”
The deadline for appeal submissions is May 3, he said.