New Brunswick

'It was a money grab': Province revises close to 1,300 property tax bills

Over the weekend, Service New Brunswick posted revisions to the assessment and tax bills of 1,285 properties.

Service New Brunswick says it could take until early 2018 to review all assessments and tax bills

This house on Mockler Street in Oromocto, which belongs to Anthony Hynes, was assessed at $301,300 — a 19 per cent increase over the last year. (Google Maps)

Service New Brunswick quietly posted revisions to the assessment and tax bills of 1,285 properties over the weekend, offering further evidence that a new assessment system pressed into service last year, generated hugely inflated valuations and tax bills for many homeowners.

"I was shocked, it was way over what it should have been," said Diane Haley, who had a 55 per cent increase in the assessment and tax bill on her Saint John home.

That number recently rolled back to a 6.9 per cent increase two months after filing an objection. 

The decision to reduce Haley's original assessment by $41,700 highlights the size of the errors that assessors are finding in some of this year's results.

Anthony Hynes also got word his original assessment is being slashed by $67,100.

"It was frustrating to say the least," said Hynes who spent two months waiting to hear about an objection he filed to the tax bill on his Mockler Street home in Oromocto, just outside Fredericton.

It was a money grab as far as I'm concerned.-Anthony Hynes

His house was assessed at $301,300 — a 19 per cent increase over last year — even though the last six houses that sold on his street went for an average price of less than $238,000.  

The most anyone has paid for a home on Mockler in the last four years is $257,500.

"It was a joke," Hynes said of his assessment.  "I put it right in the appeal, 'If you think it's worth that ($301,300) write me a cheque and I'll leave it - furnished."

A review of Hynes' property by Service New Brunswick confirmed a significant error and his 19 per cent assessment increase was changed to a 7.4 per cent assessment reduction. 

"At the end of the day when you peel it back it looks like a dirty move," said Hynes. "It was a money grab as far as I'm concerned."

A fix to false tax rates

Most of the revisions released on the weekend involve fixing inaccurate tax rates applied to properties but included 281 reductions in assessments. This was added to an earlier round of revisions last month that pushes the total number of assessment reductions since property tax bills were issued on March 1, to more than 1,500.

However, only a few of those changes so far involve the group of 2,048 homeowners who had assessment and tax increases above 20 per cent after Service New Brunswick invented renovation amounts for their homes.

Service New Brunswick has said those homeowners will receive new assessments on June 7.

A record 12,000 property owners challenged their property assessment and tax bills this year.

Service New Brunswick has said it may take until early 2018 to review them all.

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