By Trevor Suffield
Nov. 27, 2008
People attending a recent open house on property tax reassessment say they are concerned by the steep increases in the assessed values of their homes.
Approximately 788 people attended the open house, which was held last week at Heritage Victory Community Centre in St. James. It was hosted by the City of Winnipeg and was the third in a series of presentations the city is staging to inform residents about reassessment and answer any questions they might have on the subject.
Residents of St. James and Charleswood received letters from the city earlier this month informing them of the preliminary estimate of the value of their property for 2010. Residents in other parts of the city will be receiving similar letters in the coming months.
One Charleswood resident said she was shocked when she received her reassessment notice.
“It’s shocking the way the price of homes went up so much,” said Gertrude, who declined the give her last name. She has lived in Charleswood for 28 years and said, “I think we’ll still be shocked in 2010.”
Another Charleswood resident who attended the open house said she was alarmed when she received her preliminary reassessment notice and wanted to find out if she could do anything about it.
“I’m concerned about the increase. I won’t be able to finance the increase with all the prices going up,” said Pat, who declined to give her last name.
“I would hope it changes. A person has to have some hope.”
Residential home values have increased an average of 78% across the city, with St. James at 76% and Charleswood at 78%. The highest increase was in the inner city at 117%. In 2004, the last time Winnipeg properties were reassessed, the average increase was 23%.
Winnipeggers will receive their 2010 general assessment next July. The city will then change to a two-year reassessment schedule, rather than the four-year model which is currently used, in order to better reflect the recent market values.
The values are based on potential selling prices of residences at a specific point in time under normal market conditions. April 1, 2008 is the date that was used for the current reassessment.
According to Brent McIntyre, area coordinator for the residential, farm and condo group for the city’s assessment and taxation department, Winnipeg might be the only jurisdiction in Canada that conducts reassessment open houses.
“For the most part, people leave here satisfied. They’ve had the face-to-face contact, they’ve had their questions explained,” he said.
“I’ve yet to see a handful of people that have gone away from this experience that haven’t been satisfied.”
Ten city workers are available at the open house to help people through the reassessment process and changes can be made on the spot, according to McIntyre.
“We do make changes if the assessor feels it’s legitimate, and we will tell the people their new value at that point in time,” he said.
McIntyre said the number of people attending the open houses has declined since the previous assessment four years ago. He attributes the drop to more people getting their information online or calling the assessment department’s help line.
The most common question homeowners have for city officials is how reassessment will affect their taxes. He said it’s still to early to know the answer.
“We’re not in a position to know what the impact for taxes is going to be until 2010. School divisions and the city don’t establish their budgets until the spring of 2010,” he said.
More information on tax reassessment and dates for the city’s open houses are available online at www.winnipegassessment.com.