Delta homeowners stunned by huge tax increases

Some Delta homeowners will be paying a lot more property tax this year after huge increases in assessments.

'As seniors on a fixed income, it's a little bit shocking to get this kind of increase'

Some Delta homeowners, like Tsawwassen's Ron Neufeld, are facing huge property tax increases. (Dan Imbeault/CBC)

Tsawwassen residents Ron and Verna Neufeld couldn't believe their eyes when they opened their 2017 property tax bill and discovered it had gone up over 25 per cent in one year.

"As seniors on a fixed income, it's a little bit shocking to get this kind of increase," said Ron, 85.

Last year the Neufelds paid $3,269.65 in property taxes but this year they'll be forking out $4,093.98, an increase of $824.

"That's approaching $100 a month out of our budget. We certainly did not budget for that," said Ron.

Sky high assessments

All across Delta, homeowners are reporting stiff increases in their property tax bills due to sky high property assessment values. 

Rain Longson saw her property tax bill increase 60 per cent, or almost $1,000 dollars over the $1,600 she paid the city last year.

Longson says the assessed value of her 114 Street North Delta property jumped over $300,000 "for no apparent reason."

"There's no way we could sell it for [the assesed value]," she said. 

The Neufelds say the same is true of their home, which they believe is worth under $900,000 in today's market, despite being assessed at $1.254 million.

'False reading'

"It seems to us to be a false reading because in July the value of properties around here were at an all-time high and have since slumped significantly," said Ron Neufeld. 

Neufeld believes there were two major factors that drove a buying frenzy in his area last summer, pushing sale prices up but only for a short time. 

An artist's rendering of the proposed 10-lane bridge to replace the Massey Tunnel. (CBC)

"Tsawwassen was suddenly discovered ... by the East Asian market and then there was the reports of the new bridge going across the Fraser River giving us improved access to the city," he said.

"We've thought about going to the city and saying, OK, you document that we can sell our house for this much and then we'll happily pay the tax. But that's certainly not the case."

'It's a double-edged sword'

Delta Mayor Lois Jackson said the assessment process is outside municipal jurisdiction, but she is sympathetic to those who saw large increases to their property taxes.

"Certainly, there are people from other countries coming here and investing," Jackson said. "There certainly is an impact there, and local government doesn't have much to say in that situation."

She encouraged people to take advantage of various grants and deferment options available, and to appeal their assessment value if they do research and find it's not comparable to other nearby homes of similar size and age. 

"I'm not sure people understand they can go and appeal their assessment," she said.  

Jackson also said rising rates were probably inevitable in neighbourhoods with rapid development or bidding wars. 

"Delta is a very desirable place to live. If you look at the statistics, it's a safe community, very educated people live here, and it's very high-end in terms of the homes ... it's everybody's dream." 

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