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Your tax bills reflect your rates 0

By Stephen Uhler, OBSERVER MULTIMEDIA JOURNALIST

Renfrew County ratepayers should be braced for another bump up in the value of their property assessments, the first of which were mailed out recently.

Preliminary information released by the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) state that since 2008, the average increase in property assessments across the county is just over 17 per cent for home owners, and a 35.2 per cent jump for farm property.

Like 2008, where rates were frozen until the end of this year, these assessment changes will be spread out over four years in a series of smaller annual increases. It is from these values which tax bills are set, with the new values effective in January 2013.

Cecilia Buelow, the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation’s municipal relations representative, briefed the county’s finance and administration committee recently, explaining MPAC is simply reflecting the local real estate market in terms of what property is worth.

She said this year’s assessments represent the true impact of the property assessments of 2008, a value which had been phased in to the end of 2012.

Each of the 17 municipalities in the county are facing hikes in average residential taxable assessment ranging from less than 8.49 per cent to just shy of 25 per cent.

Among the highest assessment increases are Deep River (24.82 per cent), Laurentian Valley (24.28 per cent), Greater Madawaska (23.32 per cent), Admaston/Bromley (20.52 per cent), Head, Clara and Maria (19.41 per cent), Madawaska Valley (19.17 per cent), Bonnechere Valley (19.09 per cent), and North Algona Wilberforce (18.89 per cent).

For the rest: Laurentian Hills (16.93 per cent), Killaloe, Hagarty and Richards (16.48 per cent), Whitewater Region (16.17 per cent), Petawawa (16.07 per cent), Horton (15.43 per cent), McNab/Braeside (12.95 per cent), Renfrew (10.44 per cent),

Brudenell, Lyndoch and Raglan (8.77 per cent), and Arnprior had one of the lowest increases at 8.49 per cent, a sign its housing market is stabilizing.

For comparison, the separated city of Pembroke saw its residential assessments go up an average of 21.72 per cent since 2008.

Buelow said these increases are due to a number of factors, including location beside AECL and CFB Petawawa which continue to expand, rising housing prices, and the continuing popularity of waterfront property.

Farmland, particularly Class 1 and 2, rose significantly due to commodities prices and the strong desire for people to acquire it and/or develop it. The 3,273 properties which qualified as farm taxable within Renfrew County averaged a 35.26 per cent increase in value from 2008 to 2012. While significant, it is still below the 45 per cent increase which is the provincial average.

The greatest increase in farmland value over the past four years was in Renfrew, standing at 48.75 per cent, followed by Whitewater Region (39.83 per cent), Laurentian Valley (39.39 per cent), North Algona Wilberforce (38.87 per cent), Horton (38.51 per cent), Admaston/Bromley (37.54 per cent), McNab/Braeside (35.79 per cent), Arnprior (33.65 per cent), and Deep River (23.95 per cent).

Then it is Laurentian Hills (16.02 per cent), Killaloe, Hagarty and Richards (13.59 per cent), Greater Madawaska (11.99 per cent), Bonnechere Valley (11.49 per cent), Brudenell, Lyndoch and Raglan (11.3 per cent), Madawaska Valley (9.95 per cent) and Petawawa (8.45 per cent).

No information was provided for Head, Clara and Maria.

Buelow stressed the numbers are guidelines only; how much one’s assessment increases or decreases over the four years depends on the property class one is in, one’s location, how the neighbours are doing in comparison and many other factors.

For example, out of the 23,557 single family detached homes in the county, their value rose from an average of $178,060 in 2008, to $208,783 this year, or 17.25 per cent. This varies from municipality to municipality and from property to property.

The 561 semi-detatched residential properties rose in the same four-year period from $136,936 to $177,002, an increase of 29.26 per cent.

On the waterfront, a single family detached home, of which there were 2,686 properties, rose from $311,642 in 2008 to $376,923 in 2012, a jump of 20.95 per cent, while one of the 4,576 seasonal dwellings overlooking water increased over four years from $199,996 to $230,329, or 15.17 per cent.

Buelow said comparing similar properties between Arnprior, Laurentian Hills and Deep River helps to illustrate the point property values are more than just the percentages.

The value of a single family detached home in Arnprior rose from $209,681 to $223,927 from 2008 to 2012, or 6.79 per cent. Over the same four-years, the same home in Laurentian Hills soared by 28 per cent in value, from $148,843 to $190,546, while in Deep River that home was valued $167,928 in 2008, and $206,176 in 2012, a 22.78 per cent increase.

“It’s all comparative,” she said, as while Laurentian Hills does mark a significant percentage increase, in actual dollars, the property is still under $200,000. Arnprior, the place with the smallest increase, still has homes averaging nearly $224,000.

Prime waterfront property in the same three communities actually shows decreases in Arnprior and Laurentian Hills; the 61 single-family detached properties in Arnprior on the waterfront on average was valued at $521,262 in 2008, and $497,180 four years later. That is a 4.62 per cent decrease. Laurentian Hills registered just over a seven per cent decrease among the 99 properties it has on the waterfront. Those went from $340,566 in 2008 to $316,626 in 2012.

Deep River, by contrast, was up 19.2 per cent on its 53 waterfront properties, which averaged $470,170 in 2012, up from $394,453 four years ago.

Buelow said she will be briefing county municipalities throughout the rest of the year on the MPAC assessments, as well as the full session of county council on Nov. 28.

Each household will receive a property assessment by the end of November. The increase in value will be phased in over the next four years – so in 2013, a property will gain a quarter of its total increase. The full increase in value won’t be counted on residents’ tax bills until 2016.

Homeowners have until April 1, 2013 to appeal their value estimates by filing a request for reconsideration. These figures will be used by council as a basis to determine the tax levy in next year’s budget deliberations.

Stephen Uhler is a Daily Observer multimedia journalist

stephen.uhler@sunmedia.ca

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