'They are delirious': campground owners protest tax bill increases
New Brunswick gives campgrounds a break this year on their tax rate, then boosts their assessments
The popular Shediac campground Camping Beausejour got a rare 33 per cent cut on its property tax rate this year but owner Marie-Paul Martin has not been celebrating.
That's because the province gave her business a 70 per cent increase in its assessed value at the same time, pushing Martin's tax bill up, not down.
"I find that they are delirious," Martin said of Service New Brunswick, which granted the tax cut and then imposed the assessment increase.
"They sit somewhere in a little office with absolutely no knowledge of what running a campground comprises and what it costs and they come up with a number like that."
Factoring in the assessment increase and rate decrease, Martin's property taxes are up more than $4,700 (15 per cent) over last year. She has already filed an appeal and she has plenty of company.
Reassessment of assessment
Campground owners provincewide had reason to be optimistic this year when last spring Service New Brunswick decided campgrounds qualified for cheaper residential property tax rates on much of their operations after charging them much higher non-residential rates for years.
The change promised to cut property taxes for campgrounds by about one-third come this year. But Service New Brunswick also undertook a reassessment of the value of campground properties at the same time and for many owners that has obliterated savings from the tax cut and then some.
Down the street from Martin, the Ocean Surf Campground got a 39 per cent reduction in its tax rate but its property tax bill went up nearly $11,000 anyway when the province increased its assessment 109 per cent.
In Fredericton it was the same for the popular Hartt Island campground. It got a cut in its tax rate of nearly 40 per cent but then watched its tax bill jump $7,800 (38 per cent) thanks to a 126 per cent increase in its assessment.
'We didn't expect it to double'
Hartt Island is owned by Kileel Developments Ltd. and president John Kileel said he, too, is appealing.
"We'd like to see their analysis of how they arrived at that number," said Kileel. "We expected it to go up the standard one or two per cent. We didn't expect it to double."
Assessment increases hit most campgrounds in the province. The largest appeared to be a 299.8 per cent jump at the Sunrise Campground outside Miramichi, but others were low enough for owners to break even on their tax bill.
At the Mic Mac Tent and Trailer Park in Cambridge Narrows, the property tax bill dropped $4,818 because of the lower tax rate but then increased $4,778 because of the higher assessment, saving $40 off last year's taxes in the end.
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Service New Brunswick spokeswoman Judy Cole says campground owners were informed through their provincial association last year that a reassessment was being done. She said it was the first comprehensive evaluation of campgrounds in 13 years and a number of recent sales suggested assessments were too low.
"In the last five years, there have been numerous campground sales that have indicated the current level of property assessment was well below the market values established in the open market," wrote Cole in an email to CBC News.