14 Bouctouche apartment buildings get hit with 2nd property tax bills

A group of apartment building owners in Bouctouche are scratching their heads over receiving notices from Service NB that they owe more in property taxes than they were originally billed.

Landlords ordered to pay thousands more in taxes by Service NB

Service NB sent out second property tax bills regarding 14 apartment buildings in Bouctouche. (CBC)

Service New Brunswick is offering no explanation about why it issued substantial assessment and tax reductions to 14 apartment buildings in Bouctouche in March and then repealed them all in May.

"It's frustrating because you pay your property tax and then a month after you receive another one," said May Maillet, one of a number of Bouctouche landlords who have been directed to pay thousands of dollars more in property tax than they were originally billed.

"If every other department is managed that way, that's the reason they have a problem," said Maillet.

What happened with apartment building assessments in Bouctouche is a mystery but it adds to widespread frustration among property owners this spring with the management of the province's property tax system.

Tax bills were issued to Bouctouche landowners by the province March 1 in the normal way, and several landlords in the town were initially pleased.

May Maillet owns two apartment buildings in Bouctouche that have had their property taxes raised since the initial bill sent in March. (CBC)
May Maillet owns two buildings that Service NB initially assessed to be worth $1.4 million, issuing tax bills for them totalling $35,287.

But Maillet then got a letter saying there had been an error and on May 1 she was issued new bills, which added $400,000 to her building's assessments and elevated taxes owed on them by another $10,000.

"It doesn't feel good," she said. Maillet was shocked at the time but did not realize several other landlords in the area were experiencing the same treatment.

Laurie Boucher owns three apartment buildings in Bouctouche. As a group they were assessed in March for $1.3 million.

He, too, got letters claiming errors had been made and then was sent new bills that added $300,000 to his assessments and $8,900 to his taxes.

Laurie Boucher got letters from Service NB claiming errors had been made to his property assessments, and he owed a further $8,900. (CBC)
Reached on Friday, Boucher declined to comment on what happened in his case, but he and Maillet had plenty of company.

At least six other Bouctouche landlords who own nine other apartment buildings all had similar experiences.

In total 14 apartment buildings had assessments raised $1.6 million between their original bills in March and revised bills in May, with taxes on them jumping by $40,000.

And because property tax transfers to municipalities are already fixed for 2017, all of that increased revenue goes to the province.

Asked for information about what went wrong in Bouctouche, Service New Brunswick issued a statement saying only that it had "identified specific property assessments where adjustments were required."

Service NB would not explain to CBC the cause of the errors in the original assessments, nor why they all occurred in Bouctouche. (CBC)
The agency would not explain what the nature of the errors in the original assessments were, whether it was a human or computer or another mistake, or why so many apartment buildings were affected in the same small town in the same way.

May Maillet said she would like some answers from someone in authority.

"I wish I could sit down and have the premier explain to me honestly what happened," she said.

The landlords can ask for a review of the increase and have until Aug. 1 to pay the new bills.

About the Author

Robert Jones

Reporter

Robert Jones has been a reporter and producer with CBC New Brunswick since 1990. His investigative reports on petroleum pricing in New Brunswick won several regional and national awards and led to the adoption of price regulation in 2006.