Burns Lake property assessments up

Village of Burns Lake 2014 budget deliberations are scheduled to begin on Jan. 13, 2014.

Village of Burns Lake 2014 budget deliberations are scheduled to begin on Jan. 13, 2014.

Residential property tax rates in Burns Lake slightly edge out Houston to be the highest within the Regional District of Bulkley Nechako (RDBN), according to data available through the provincial Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development.

Residential property owners in Burns Lake paid 7.3 per cent property tax last year, to generate $498,998, or 47 per cent of the municipal taxation budget.

Residential taxes in Houston were at seven per cent for 2013, generating just over one million dollars, or 28 per cent of the municipal tax base.

Residential tax rates in Smithers were 4.7 per cent, Fraser Lake 5.3 per cent, Fort St. James 4.3 per cent, Vanderhoof 4.5 per cent and Telkwa 6.3 per cent.

What Burns Lake lacks is a major industry tax base within municipal boundaries. Houston last year collected $1.6 million, or 43 per cent of its tax base, from major industry. Burns Lake collects no taxes from major industry, a budgetary constraint that it shares with only Telkwa within the RDBN.

Business property rate payers in Burns Lake accounted for 45 per cent of the municipal tax budget last year, paying just over $475,000, or 16.3 per cent in property taxes.

That 16.3 per cent rate place Burns Lake business rate payers in the middle of the pack for rates across the RDBN.

In 2013, Fraser Lake sat at a 22.2 per cent, Houston at 20 per cent, and Smithers at 17.1 per cent. Fort St. James, Vanderhoof and Telkwa all had marginally lower business tax rates, with Telkwa the lowest at 12.6 per cent.

Property owners in Burns Lake can expect to see an 8.59 per cent increase in their property value assessments this year from BC Assessment. Property assessments are based on an estimate of market value as of July 1, 2013, and the physical condition of properties as of Oct. 31, 2013.

The B.C. Assessment Office does not speculate on the cause of the increases.

“BC Assessment reviews and analyses all the sales that transact within the year that are registered with the Land Titles and Survey Authority,” said Christopher Whyte, BC Assessment northern region deputy assessor. “As a result, the sales that took place in Burns Lake in 2013 indicated that the market was willing to pay more for property in that location.”

Whyte noted that a common trend throughout the Northwest is a rise in property value associated with projected resource projects.

“The one common trend that is present across the majority of the north half of the province is that the natural resource sector is continuing to prosper which will create certain economic outcomes.  This may or may not be the case for Burns Lake.”

Burns Lake, part of the Prince George assessment area, is second only to the District of Mackenzie for an increase in assessed property value within the Prince George assessment area.

The average assessment in the District of Mackenzie increased from $125,000 in 2013, to $149,000 for this year. That is a 19.2 per cent jump in assessed value.

After Burns Lake, came Vanderhoof at 6.5 per cent, and Prince George at 2.5 per cent.

Turning to the Northwest assessment area, the District of Kitimat saw a 26.7 per cent increase in assessed property values, the District of New Hazelton a 22.7 per cent increase, and Terrace a 10.9 per cent increase.

Smithers had a 2.3 per cent increase and Telkwa a nine per cent increase. Houston remained relatively stable at a 0.7 per cent assessment increase.

The property assessments provide the foundation for local and provincial taxation, generating more than $6.2 billion in property taxes every year province-wide.