Recent History – 2004
By Gary Rusak
Increased property assessment values are a sign of an optimistic economic outlook for the city, Anne Clayton, Peace River deputy assessor, said on Wednesday.
“A lot of optimism is reflected in the assessments,” she said. “The economy in the northeast is strengthening; with coal in Tumbler Ridge and Chetwynd doing well-the spinoff effect can be felt in Dawson Creek.”
She added that local oil and gas development as well as the positive vote for the South Peace Community Multiplex all played a part in creating the positive economic environment. This week, the assessment office sent notices of property value to all residents and businesses in the city. Provincially, the overall value of the entire assessment roll increased 17 per cent from 2004.
Locally, Clayton said that many will see a noticeable increase in their home or business assessment value.
“The example we give is that a single family home in Dawson Creek that was assessed at $98,000 in 2003 might be valued around $121,000 in 2004,” she said. “We don’t give an average increase because it’s different for all types of properties.”
Clayton said that even though the assessments were just mailed out, the local office is already fielding many phone calls from residents. She expects a busy month for the office since the assessments are higher than what many expect.
“For a long time, the assessments in Dawson Creek stayed pretty much the same,” she said. “But, if anyone thinks that their assessment is too high we ask them to call us as soon as they can.”
Residents have until Jan. 31 to request an independent review by the Property Assessment Review Panel.
Of course, higher assessments can be a double edged sword. Whereas someone selling or mortgaging their house would benefit from a higher assessment value, since municipalities’ base their tax rate on property value, it could also mean a bigger tax hit for area residents and businesses. However, Clayton said that the equation is often not that straightforward.
“You want to have your house assessed at fair market value,” she said. “An increase in taxes does not necessarily follow. If the assessments for the whole city are going to be considerably higher then they might lower the tax rate. It depends on what the municipality needs to provide the services to its residents.”
The 2005 tax rate will be decided upon by the city during budget discussions in January and February and be released with the final budget in March.