Taxing the homeowner based on property values

as the mayor sees it with District of Barriere Mayor Bill Humphreys - Taxing the homeowner based on property values

When Barriere incorporated,  an extra layer of government started collecting taxes, and from what I have heard some would rather go back to having bake sales to raise money for new things than pay staff to write grant applications.

They recall going to the old Barriere Improvement District office were there was usually one person that did most everything. Taxes were low, and the services minimal.

There is an almost universal suspicion of government at any level. People see their hard earned money going out for taxes,  and they are never truly sure what they get back.

There is no easy to understand measure of the value of paying any sort of tax, let alone the whole mill rate per $1000 of property appraisal that determines property taxes, nor will there ever be.

It seems most residents just want to know the percentage that property taxes are going to go up. The question of what the cost is to them personally is seldom asked.

This is odd, because in most cases here in Barriere the calculated percentage increase for the current year tax rate has little effect on the cost to the taxpayer. Over the past few years the appraised value of homes in small communities like ours has for the most part gone down, and because of this the tax amounts go down as well.

Each year staff prepares various examples of appraised values on specific properties to show what the trend is. One property that has been tracked was appraised at $219,310 in 2010, and owed $598.17 in gross taxes.

The same property was appraised at $197,300 in 2013 and owed $637.47 in gross taxes. The small $39.30 increase over those years is not due to low taxation but to the drop in value of the property.

One school of thought has it that we continually raise taxes, get more operating capital and build up reserves to pay for needed upgrades.

The other option would be to borrow money to do a given project and make payments over a given amount of time. Since these payments are not tied to fluctuating property values, the amount paid would stay the same over the life of the loan. Residents would know each year what they owe.

Yes, we could wait, raise the taxes continually as some suggest, and hope that our water wells don’t run into problems, and that our outdated main water lines don’t break and cause major property damage.

Maybe we could get lucky, and bad things won’t happen. It strikes me that if we are that lucky we should all buy lottery tickets.

Personally, I have a concern that if we continue to raise taxes and have a market correction where property values climb back to what they were in 2010, and possibly even higher, that we will find that we have created an even larger segment of our population that is the working poor.

These are the people that work hard and have jobs that pay them relatively well, but with all the costs of having a family, a home and a reasonable lifestyle find that they are just now making it from payday to payday. These workers have virtually no access to programs that provide relief from portions of their property tax costs. They pay full fare, and when costs go up they pay dearly.

It is possible that most of us on fixed incomes will need help to pay our property taxes if property values go up and we have followed the model of raising taxes year after year. In that scenario the taxes owing would be sky high.

Also, in times when property appraisals go up, generally interest rates would climb along with them. Should it happen that we are forced into doing emergency repairs to any of our infrastructure and need to borrow money at increased rates, the situation would be less than desirable.

We all have the right to express our opinions. That is one of the great things about living in Canada.

Paying taxes is part of being a citizen, and paying a fair share of the costs.

You still have a right to say what those costs should be.