Property owners throughout the Bulkley Valley will be receiving their 2013 assessment notices in the coming days.
In the last year, there has been a slight increase in property values in the area, said Christopher Whyte, deputy assessor with BC Assessment.
“Most homes in the area are remaining stable in value compared to last year’s assessment roll,” Whyte said.
“Most homeowners in Smithers, Telkwa and the Hazletons will see modest changes in the zero to five per cent range.”
In total, the assessment rolls for Smithers, Telkwa and the Hazeltons increased from $905 million last year to $911 million this year.
The average price of a single family home in Smithers increased just over $1,000 from last year whereas the year prior, the jump was about $15,000.
But Smithers taxpayers are not necessarily looking at an increase in property taxes because of the higher assessments, Mayor Taylor Bachrach said.
“We don’t tax based on increased assessments, it’s more about the relative value of the properties.
“I don’t see the assessed values having a significant direct impact [on taxes].
“The bigger challenge that we are facing is the increasing cost of delivering services.”
Remax Bulkely Valley managing broker Peter Lund said the market value of properties in the area has also been rising, but at a greater pace than the assessments.
“The Smithers area has a lot of resource-based exploration and development which is pushing up the prices.
“We really have a shortage of rental units in town which equates directly to increases in property values,” Lund said
“There’s a limited supply when things do become available and the demand seems to always be there.”
Lund said he expects the trend will continue as the year progresses.
The property assessments are based on several factors, including the market value of the property on July 1 of the previous year.
Also influencing the assessment value is the physical condition of the house/property on October 31 of the previous year and changes in property assessment more often than not are the result of activity in the real-estate market.
Although the property assessments have risen again this year, however modest, Carmen Graf, mayor of the Village of Telkwa, doesn’t see a huge impact on municipal taxes.
“It doesn’t matter what the assessment is, we adjust the mill rate to establish the tax rate we charge,” Graf said.
“Just because your assessment goes up it doesn’t mean your taxes are going to go up.”
In fact, Graf said despite the increase in property assessments, he expected only a modest increase in municipal taxes, if any at all.
The increase in assessment values didn’t surprise Graf given the real-estate market in Telkwa had a busy year, as well as upgrades in water and sewer infrastructure around the Village of Telkwa.
President of the Smithers District Chamber of Commerce, George Whitehead, put a similar spin on the assessments and pointed to a 15 per cent increase in building permits in 2011/ 2012.
By contrast, assessment values for commercial and industrial properties fell this year, up to five per cent in Smithers, 10 per cent in Telkwa and 20 per cent in New Hazelton.
The decrease in assessment values for commercial and industrial properties was a little more difficult to explain, Whitehead said, but suggested the decline in assessment value for industrial properties was a reflection of the mills burning down in Burns Lake and Prince George.
“Even though they aren’t local, it paints the whole region,” he said.
If home and business owners feel the value of their property is not properly reflected on the 2012 assessment, they are asked to contact the Northwest office of BC Assessment at 1-866-825-8322 or visit www.bcassessment.ca.
If not satisfied with this response there is still one recourse, added Whyte.
“If a property owner is still concerned about their assessment after speaking to one of our appraisers, they may submit a Notice of Complaint by January 31, for an independent review by a Property Assessment Review Panel,” he said.