Of the $3,447 in taxes and charges levied on a typical $588,000 single-family house in 2017, about two-thirds are municipal property taxes, including for police.

Assessment jumps will leave many townhouse and apartment owners facing higher tax bills

Most single-family houses will see similar tax bills to last year, thanks to lower assessment jumps

BC Assessment giveth and taketh away.

After assessments spikes left single-family house owners feeling the brunt of last year’s tax increase, it will be townhouse and apartment owners who are on the hook this year.

The 2.47 per cent tax requisition increase proposed last fall was given the thumbs up by council Monday. But how that translates to individual properties will depend on whether owners saw their assessments increase by more or less than the citywide average.

In 2016, single-family house assessments significantly outpaced that of townhouse and apartments. And because all types of housing fall under the same residential classification, that meant that most houses drew significant tax increases come last July, while townhomes and apartments frequently saw decreasing tax bills.

The reverse may be happening this year, after a spike last year of townhomes and apartment assessments. With most strata units seeing value increases beyond the residential average of 18 per cent, their tax bills are set to rise considerably – a year after many saw a tax reduction.

The 2.47 figure was arrived at based on the increase to the “municipal price index” the city uses to track inflation on goods and services it purchases.

The increasing home assessments have also turned the tables on Mayor Henry Braun’s goal of reducing the disparity between tax rates for residential and business properties. Braun stated during the 2014 municipal election that he would like to see the rate for businesses no more than twice that of residences.

But differing changes to assessment rates means that to do so would require significantly hiking taxes for homeowners. A 2016 proposal to decrease the ratio downward was shelved and then abandoned, with an analysis by The News showing that such a move would see tax rates cut for businesses but triple-digit tax increases for most homeowners. The city has been keeping with past practice and applying tax rate increases uniformly and will do so again this year.

And with another year of residential assessment increases, the business-to-home tax rate ratio will rise to just shy of three-to-one in 2018.

Coun. Ross Siemens expressed hope that could decrease next year, as new industrial developments come online and the business tax base broadens. In the meantime, Braun said the city’s business tax rates remains competitive with other Fraser Valley municipalities.

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