The City of Weyburn will try and ensure the coming tax bills will affect the smallest possible number of property owners following the revaluation of property assessments for 2013 - but they admit they're nervous about what the province is going to do on the education tax side.
City council heard a presentation from officials with the Saskatchewan Assessment Management Agency (SAMA) about the revaluation that has taken place for this year, along with a report from the city assessor about the attempt by the city to remain "revenue neutral" in applying those assessment changes to the coming property tax bills for 2013.
The SAMA officials noted they do property assessments for 756 out of 774 municipalities (urban and rural) in the province, assessment $94 billion of properties which generate $1.4 billion in tax revenue province-wide.
After explaining the three approaches to assessments, the impact on Weyburn was shown, and indicates that assessment values here are going up much higher than the provincial average.
The province's assessed property values as a whole are going up 68 per cent this year, compared to 22 per cent four years ago, the last time a revaluation was done.
Broken down for Weyburn, the city's residential properties will see an increase of 131 per cent in value, compared to the provincial average increase of 87 per cent; multi-unit residential properties will go up 81 per cent in value compared to the provincial average of 87 per cent; and commercial properties are going up 103 per cent in value, compared to the provincial average of 55 per cent.
In explaining how the city is making these increases in property values be revenue-neutral, city assessor Brenna Keeler explained that commercial properties in Weyburn have gone up from $83 million to $216 million in value.
"That's where we're scared about the provincial school rate," she commented, noting the province sets the mill rate for education, and municipalities cannot mitigate those rates in any way.
She added that the commercial properties last year raised $2.2 million in tax revenue, and the city plans to raise the same amount in 2013, which is the "revenue-neutral" concept, namely that the higher assessment will not necessarily mean a higher tax bill, on the municipal tax side.
On the residential side, properties went from $254 million to over $575 million in the latest assessment in value.
"Again, that's quite alarming when considering the school mill rate," said Keeler, pointing out there are 3,223 taxable residential properties in Weyburn this year.
Of these, 35 per cent will actually see a decrease in municipal taxes, while 65 per cent will see an increase. But, added Keeler, almost 90 per cent of all properties seeing a decrease or increase will see a difference of less than $150, and 1.5 per cent will see an increase of more than $150, exclusive of the base tax, which tentatively is at the 2012 rate of $505, until the city budget has been set.
Similarly, on the commercial property side, 59 per cent of properties will see a decrease, and 41 per cent an increase, with 60 per cent of all properties seeing an increase or decrease of less than $1,000, and 18 per cent will see an increase of more than $1,000.
"The majority of properties will not see much of a change, but that's not including the school taxes," said Keeler.
Once the assessment notices are out, in late March or early April, there will be a 60-day window in which assessments can be appealed, double the normal 30-day period, due to the revaluation of all properties.
Council passed a new Highway Commercial contract agreement with Minard's Leisure World that will allow for seasonal variance of how many units they can put on to their property.
After they bought land along Government Road South opposite from their main location, they asked for rezoning from R2 residential to Highway Commercial by Contract; they initially wanted to put 120 units on the land, which was to serve as a display area for recreational vehicles, and manufactured and mobile homes.
This was defeated by council, and the agreement was reworked, and even at the council meeting was tweaked after hearing from company representative Susan Minard.
In the end, council passed an agreement to allow for 100 units on the land from Oct. 1 to May 31, and no more than 42 units during the intervening summer months, with this agreement in place for a five-year period.
In making the motion for the agreement, Coun. Rob Stephanson said he was thinking of adjacent property owners, as they "certainly wouldn't want to be living with a storage compound behind me", and would only amend the agreement to allow as much as 100 units in the winter. Minard said this would be acceptable for the current time.
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