Property owners in resort communities are facing some of the highest property assessment increases this year, and by extension, education tax rate increases.
“We want the people who are in resort communities to be treated fairly,” Provincial Association of Resort Communities of Saskatchewan president Shirley Gange said. “We want to pay our fair share.”
Both municipalities and the province have the ability to adjust mill rates to ensure revenue neutrality when it comes to this year’s property assessment re-evaluation, which is mandated by the province every four years.
But, Gange notes that the range in property assessment increases varies a lot more across the province than in individual municipalities, with those in resort communities on the highest end of the residential property assessment spectrum.
“The assessments on residential (properties) in resort communities have increased much more than residential in urban settings, although we’re all lumped together,” Gange summarized, citing last year’s residential mill rate of 9.8605.
Property assessment increases tend to be “dramatic,” government relations minister Jim Reiter said, noting that this year is no exception.
The average residential assessment in Saskatchewan is going up 86 per cent this year, he said, noting that Gagne’s concerns are “fair,” with the average seasonal residential property’s increase at 98 per cent.
With education mill rates for residential properties leveling off around the 86 per cent mark, Reiter added that people in resort communities might face a higher education tax rate increase than those in urban centres.
“Individual properties will vary as well,” he said, noting that property assessments depend on market conditions.
A common argument for taxing based on property assessment value is that those with more expensive properties can typically afford to pay more, Gange said, adding that this isn’t always the case.
“This is our retirement home, and many of us are people who are living on fixed incomes and we chose to retire in these resort communities,” she said.
Many residents may have purchased their homes several years ago, with every property assessment revaluation bumping taxes out of an affordable range, forcing some residents to relocate.
This has had a drastic effect on the province’s approximate 80 resort communities, Gagne said.
“It used to be a lot of people would retire to places like this. They find they can’t afford to anymore, because the taxes have gone up so high, and the price of property,” she said.
“And then there’s no one left to be on volunteer fire departments, serve on the councils and serve on the citizens on patrol and all of that, because the average people, such as ourselves, have been pushed out.”
The City of Prince Albert’s average residential property assessment increase will be 92 per cent, while the average range of increase will be between 75 per cent and 110 per cent.
With the city’s average residential property assessment increase higher than the provincial average of 86 per cent, most Prince Albert resident will also pay a disproportionately large education tax increase compared to the rest of the province.
The final education tax impact this year will be determined alongside the provincial budget next month.
“It’s going to be our job, for education tax at the provincial level, to adjust mill rates,” Reiter said. “The question then becomes … is it going to adjust for revenue neutral or a budget increase, and that’s a question for budget day and the budget process.”