By Lethbridge Herald on June 5, 2015.
Tax incentives provided to large industrial property owners hidden in the province’s regulated assessment process mean individual taxpayers pay more in the long run, according to Stan Dilworth, manager of Assessment and Taxation for The City of Lethbridge.
Dilworth presented at the weekly SACPA session on Thursday at Country Kitchen Catering.
“If they brought all of the regulated property rates up to current standards at 100 per cent level based on market value principles, the tax base would be much wider. The tax rates would drop, and individual property owners and businesses that are assessed on a market value approach would see a decline in their taxes,” said Dilworth.
In the proposed budget before the election, one provincial announcement that affected taxes at the municipal level was the cancellation of grants in lieu for properties they own for seniors housing and affordable housing.
“In Lethbridge, these are houses rented to needy families,” he said. “The municipality continues to provide the normal services it provides everybody else — parks, fire, police, roadways, garbage pick-up. This grant has been paid for at least 50 years so it was surprising they decided to cancel it.”
Dilworth said the loss amounted to approximately $935,000 for the city. As a result, all taxpayers received an additional 0.7 per cent increase on their property tax bill.
“We are hopeful the new government reconsiders that decision. There’s been no budget passed so we’re not sure exactly what’s happening on a local level. It was $21 million in funding removed across the province.”
The Municipal Government Act is currently under review by the provincial government. They are reviewing all of the assessment and tax rules.
Dilworth said the the time for citizens to take action is now.
“There is a consultation in place through Municipal Affairs, and so they can put their comments in through that consultation process or they can contact their newly-elected MLAs. With a change in government, there might be a different approach.”
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