If you own a house in St. Johns, your property assessment has probably gone down

If you own a house in St. John\s, your property assessment has probably gone down
Residential Assessments Down, But Property Taxes Expected to Rise in St. Johns
Residential property assessments in the capital city are down, but property taxes in St. John’s are still expected to rise, albeit by a small margin.

Residential property values are down slightly overall, with the total residential roll dropping by 4.17 per cent.

“Although the overall trend is down for residential properties and up for commercial, it is important to note that property assessments are a very individual thing and each property owner will need to examine their own assessment. While there can be many reasons for a change in value the goal is to ensure properties are assessed correctly,” councillor Dave Lane, St. John’s city council lead for Finance and Administration, explained in a press release.

Councillor Dave Lane says in September they anticipated a mil rate increase between .4 and .6, and they have been working to identify opportunities for savings.

“Based on early predictions and a review of property values, the majority of home owners could have a tax increase of less than $10 a month,” Lane stated. “The individual impact on commercial property owners is much more varied given the wider nature of properties involved.”

He says based on early predictions and a review of property values, most home owners can expect a tax increase of less than $10 a month.

As the city predicted, residential values are down slightly, dropping by 4.17 per cent since the last assessment in 2016. Commercial properties, meanwhile, saw an increase of 1.72 per cent.

The 2019 assessments for homeowners in St. John's were released on Monday, with an overall downward trend.

In a meeting two weeks from today, council will announce the mills rates for 2019. To determine a property tax, the mill rate is applied to the assessed value of the property.

But despite an average 4.17 per cent drop in assessments, homeowners can still expect to pay more in taxes.

The assessments are available online and are also being mailed to property owners and should begin arriving in mailboxes this week.

"We have been working over the past months to identify as many opportunities for savings as possible," said Coun. Dave Lane in a news release.

Value assessments for over 43,000 residential and commercial properties in St. John’s are now available.

"Based on early predictions and a review of property values, the majority of home owners could have a tax increase of less than $10 a month."

Total municipal property values have gone down from $15.9 billion last year to $15.5 billion this year. However, the city anticipates an increase in the mill rate — currently 7.3 mills — of between 0.4 and 0.6 mills.

That would mean an increase of roughly five to eight per cent to the mill rate, meaning the average homeowner will pay more. The 2019 mill rate will be announced when the city releases the 2019 budget next month.

For example, if someone's property was assessed at $200,000 in 2018, that person paid $1,460 in taxes for the year. A drop of 4.17 per cent would lower that value to $191,660. A mill rate increase of 0.4 mills would mean a 2019 tax bill of $1,475.78, about $1.32 per month more. An increase of 0.6 mills would mean $1,514.11 in taxes, an extra $4.51 per month.

For someone with a $350,000 home, 2018's tax bill was $2,555. A drop by the average amount would mean a value of $335,405 and a 2019 tax bill of $2,582.62 with a 0.4-mill increase ($2.30 a month extra) or $2,649.70 under an increase of 0.6 mills (an extra $7.89 a month).

Assessments are done every three years, and the current round reflects a drop in market values since January 2014 — the date the last assessments were based on.

"Assessors are trained and accredited to provide an accurate, independent and thorough valuation of the city's more than 43,000 properties," the city's news release said. "A number of factors are used to determine property value, including neighbourhood market data, sale history, permits for renovations, additions and site visits."

While residential properties saw an average decrease, commercial properties saw a slight increase, up by 1.72 per cent.

"Although the overall trend is down for residential properties and up for commercial, it is important to note that property assessments are a very individual thing and each property owner will need to examine their own assessment," Lane said in the statement

"While there can be many reasons for a change in value the goal is to ensure properties are assessed correctly."

The city had previously been criticized for having assessments far above market values. Many houses listed for sale had assessment values more than $50,000 over the asking price.

Homeowners concerned with their current assessment are asked to contact the city's assessment division at 576-8929. The deadline to appeal has been extended to Jan. 31.