District of Houston property taxes are due July 4. (File photo)

Property taxes due July 4

Residential rate reduced to reflect increase in assessments

With property taxes due in less than two weeks, those eyeing this year’s notices for payment sent out by the District of Houston will note amounts owed that are different than in past years.

While the amounts for other public entities such as the school district, regional district and regional hospital district are not decided by the District of Houston, it adjusts its own tax rates depending upon its local needs.

It’s been the District’s policy that tax rates go up by no more than 2.5 per cent a year for each of the property classifications which range from categories such as residential to commercial to light and major industry.

But that doesn’t mean, for instance, that each property owner will pay 2.5 per cent more than last year because the actual dollar amount owed ultimately depends on the assessed value of a property.

It begins with the District council deciding what it needs to spend and for this year, that figure is approximately $6.9 million. Of that amount, $2.3 million will come from utility fees, user fees and grants, leaving $4.64 million to come from property taxes.

For the residential tax classification portion of the needed revenue, that means charging $5.57 for every $1,000 of assessed value.

That’s 21.8 per cent less than what was charged in 2021 for every $1,000 of assessed value because had the District not adjusted the rate, it would have brought in far more than needed.

Rate changes would normally be spread across all property classes but with residential assessments having the highest increases, council decided to reduce the rate substantially while maintaining increases in other classes to the 2.5 per percent increase target.

Business assessments also rose but to a lesser extent than residential assessments and council also reduced the rate there using the same logic as it did for the residential rate.

This is also where homeowners have to look at their 2022 assessments as determined by the B.C. Assessment Authority to see if the value of their property is more or less than last year.

If, for example, a homeowner’s assessment comes in at above the 21.8 per cent decrease in the residential tax rate, the homeowner will pay more in municipal tax.

Representative figures provided by the District of Houston indicate that a single family residence valued at $197,900 in 2021 is valued at $269,900 in 2022, an increase of $72,000 or 36.4 per cent. Because that’s above the decrease in the tax rate, there will be an increase from $1,415 last year to $1,510 this year — up $95 or 6.7 per cent.

But if a residence’s assessed value increased by less than that 21.8 per cent decrease, there will be less municipal tax to pay.

In all, the overall dollar tax increase for the residential classification this year is scheduled to bring in $62,829 more than in 2021 at $1.567 million.

The council did, however, alter its 2.5 per cent tax hike policy in the heavy industry classification this year and that was to generate an additional $100,000 for the District’s roadworks budget.

The first proposed roadworks budget was $600,000 but a motion by councillor Tom Euverman increased that to $800,000 with the additional $100,000 coming from municipal reserves and $100,000 by increasing the tax rate for the heavy industry classification to 5.026 per cent.

Additionally, council authorized reallocating $225,000 from the planned roads budget for 2023 to this year in view of increased costs. This money comes from a provincial grant so there is no impact on property taxes.

Taxes are normally due July 2 but because that’s a Saturday and District offices aren’t open Saturdays or Sundays, the due date is the next day the offices are open which is Monday, July 4. Penalties, however, will not be applied until July 31 this year as an adjustment period outlined in the Community Charter.

Homeowners do receive a break through the provincial homeowner’s grant but are reminded they have to apply to the provincial government and not to the District.

The regular grant is $570 but for northern and rural residents it’s up to $770 depending upon specific circumstances.