And it is good to be back after a far-too-long enforced absence courtesy of cancer.
The first thing I have to tell you is that my brush with that annoying disease has left me a more forgiving, gentler person when it comes to writing these editorials.
So let’s get right to it.
The New Year got off to an upbeat start for homeowners with news from the BC Assessment Authority that the value of Kitimat residential properties had plummeted close to 20 per cent.
Unfortunately that doesn’t mean your tax bill is automatically going to drop by that amount.
To explain, we’ll take the example of a house that had an assessed value of $100,000 for 2010. Last year that homeowner would have received a property tax bill from the city for about $1,500.
But two major components of that total were not related to assessed value at all.
First there was the parcel flat tax of $571, the amount paid by the owner of every residential property whatever its value.
The logic for that flat tax – and I don’t argue with it – is to recognize there are certain common services that all homeowners enjoy, no matter how grand or how plain their home. And they should all pay accordingly.
And then there was $206 for utilities – water and garbage, again nothing to do with assessed values.
So just over half last year’s tax bill is unchanged by the assessment.
Next there were school taxes ($393) and taxes levied by the Kitimat-Stikine regional district, the regional hospital district, the northwest regional hospital, the assessment authority and the rest (another $100 roughly).
And finally there was the city’s general municipal tax of $238.
Ah well, since all those tax bill amounts are tied to assessed values, at least that homeowner can anticipate a savings of getting on for $150.
In a perfect world, yes.
More next week.
PS – I haven’t forgotten about the Home Owners Grant – we’ll get to that in due time.