Smithers homeowners had another shocker last week with the mailing of 2023 BC property assessments.
On average, assessments were up by 14 per cent and the median value of a single-family home in Smithers reached just a hair shy of half a million dollars. And that’s 14 per cent on top of last year’s 21 per cent increase.
Of course, assessment values are used in the calculation of property taxes, but tax increases are independent of those assessment values.
Municipalities determine tax rates based on how much money they need to operate, provide services and complete projects above and beyond transfers from other levels of government, grants etc.
And how much they need is, in turn, dictated by the rising cost of, well, everything right now.
This year the Town of Smithers is proposing up to a 10 per cent increase in property taxes, which, even with inflation raging at close to seven per cent, is outrageous.
The Town will adjust the mill rate so the 10 per cent is not added on top of the 14 per cent assessment increase, but however you slice it, taxes are going up significantly unless, we, the public, do something about it.
Right now, most of us are already reeling from out-of-control inflation on the most basic of necessities, being gutted by outrageous interest rates and staggering insurance costs. We’re all tightening our belts, cutting out luxuries, doing everything we can just to get by.
Yes, Smithers has many things that need to get done and nobody wants to see municipal services cut or projects not completed, but maybe this is the year we say no to tax increases and yes to cuts, yes to holding off on projects.
Municipalities are in the process of cutting new deals with the province and feds on revenue sharing, we have a new economic development officer working on ways to increase the commercial tax base and industry is booming in the northwest.
Surely there are better times ahead and this is not the time to be increasing the burden on already burdened residential ratepayers.
The actual town budget won’t be passed until March. Between now and then there is ample opportunity to make our voices heard.
If we say nothing, taxes are going up. A lot. Period.
Maybe that’s fine. Maybe as a community we’re OK with paying more for the priorities council has laid out. If you disagree, though, get engaged, get involved and let council know it.