By RYAN KING
PORT AUX BASQUES – The town of Channel-Port aux Basques has seen a significant drop in revenues from taxation over the last few years thanks to the annual assessments of real estate valued by the Municipal Assessment Agency (MAA).
The MAA is a non-profit provincial entity that provides independent property assessments in accordance with the Assessment Act of 2006. The agency provides property information that is used by municipalities for taxation purposes, property owners, and other parties.
The last two fiscal years have seen a drop of approximately 13 per cent in real estate value. Property tax makes up 51 per cent of the town’s total revenue, and reductions can result in an impact on decisions regarding overall spending by the town, as well as on capital works projects.
During the most recent meeting of Town Council held on Tuesday, June 15, discussion touched on a recent MAA assessment. There was a change of –7.3 per cent in the residential value of homes, and a –6.3 per cent change in total taxable values.
Town Manager Leon MacIsaac noted that despite these drops, the town is carefully monitoring its spending and revenues for each fiscal quarter to make sure it stays on track.
“Once we have compiled information from the three fiscal quarters of 2021, including the latest assessment values, Council will meet this fall to discuss and prepare the budget for 2022. It would be difficult to make a determination on what discussions or decisions will made at that time. Any discussions will require careful consideration to ensure expenses/revenues are balanced prior to Council making any decisions regarding possible changes,” stated MacIsaac via e-mail.
MacIsaac also clarified that all municipal councils will be expected to put forward a balanced budget without expecting financial aid from the provincial government.
Many residents may be in the dark about just what a municipal assessment means and how it differs, at times by large amounts, from a realtor’s property assessment.
MacIsaac explained that annual assessments of commercial and residential properties are made each year by staff from the MAA using a number of criteria, such as geography, lot and building size, age, and renovations.
“Annual sales of properties are also a consideration of value. The economic climate on the Southwest coast is different than it would be in Stephenville, Corner Brook, Central, or Eastern areas of the province. All factors are used to determine a value that best represents the area as a whole. Because assessments are completed annually, assessment values fluctuate with each review,” said MacIsaac.
For those homeowners concerned that this lower assessment may negatively reflect on the value of their homes, MacIsaac explained that these assessments vary from area to area, and do not always reflect the current real estate market.
“The Assessment Value of a property may be far different from the local Real Estate Market value. While there are a few instances where the Assessment might equal the current value, it is important to understand that this would only be a coincidence as both values are unique and are done for different purposes at different times.”