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Property values remain stable in Greater Trail

Houses in Greater Trail are worth about the same as last year, according to the latest assessments mailed out last week.

It's a trend most of the province shares except northern B.C. communities where property values spiked as high as 26 per cent due to the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline.

In Trail, house prices dropped 1.7 per cent meaning a single family dwelling averages $171,000 compared to $174,000 in 2013.

The numbers reflect the region's housing market as a whole but the drop in price isn't a worry, according to the local deputy assessor.

“Trail is representative of the range for the West Kootenay,” said Dennis Hickson from Kootenay Regional BC Assessment (BCA), based in Nelson.  “This year's decrease is not significant,” he explained. “I consider these types of changes are not market movements that are a cause for concern. Rather, I think they imply a healthy balance of supply and demand in the market place.”

Rossland real estate saw a slight decrease with housing falling from $243,000 to $238,000 which is a nominal change, said Hickson.

In the villages of Warfield and Fruitvale, home values remained unchanged at $170,000 and $186,000 respectively, and Montrose real estate increased marginally with the average house selling for $222,000 compared to $219,000 in 2013.

In aggregate, areas A and B saw a minimal drop, however further east in Salmo, village real estate had a 2.8 per cent increase in market change.

“This is a similar change to other communities in the area and again implies a stable market place,” explained Hickson.

Although the assessment authority hasn't carried out door-to-door inspections since the late 1990s, new technology, which includes aerial views and street front photography, is being employed to verify property inventory.

Additionally, when homeowners take out building permits, their residences are inspected by a BCA appraiser, and properties that are sold are viewed to keep records current and to aid in the valuation process.

“It's kind of interesting that the last number of years the West Kootenay has show great resilience in the market place,” said Hickson. “Everybody is interested in what their greatest asset is worth, and the properties have retained their values very well.”

Overall assessment rolls, which include nine additional tax bases ranging from light and major industry, businesses and managed forest land, remained stable in the Silver City at $1.1 billion.

Rossland's general net tax base saw a decrease from $588 million to $578 million this year, however percentage-wise, the $10 million loss means only a 1.7 per cent drop, which is nominal, added Hickson.

The only region that saw a substantial increase in tax base was Electoral Area A, which increased from $786 million last year to $810 million in 2014, mainly due to the contribution of construction during the Waneta Dam expansion.

Hickson speculated that the $24 million assessment increase in the rural area can impact the cost sharing programs between the regional district and municipalities.

BC Assessment is an independent crown corporation with a mandate to produce uniform property assessments annually for all property owners in B.C.

Essentially, it is a tool that is passed on to municipalities to determine property taxation rates for the year.

“The assessments are based on a mass appraisal system that uses statistical data,” explained Hickson. “That value is used as a basis for calculating what the municipality needs to charge for taxes keeping in mind that there are different classes of property and tax rates will vary.”

However, BCA property values are only one aspect taken into account when property taxes are set each year.

First, council deals with budget approval which determines how much property tax revenue is required to run the city, explained David Perehudoff, Trail's chief administrative officer, adding, then property tax or mill rates are set.

“The fact that assessments have not changed does not mean that property taxes will not increase,” he said. “Most likely there will be a need to increase property taxes in 2014,” he continued. “Especially with the loss of the Beaver Valley Recreation funding in the amount of $207,000. Unless council decides to cut services this year.”

Last year, the city's tax rate was $3.6543 per $1,000 of assessment for residential properties which accounts for 45 per cent of the total property tax bill.

On every $1,000, homeowners paid $2.77 to the regional district; $2.88 to the provincial school fund; .34 to the regional hospital; and a fractional payment to BCA and the municipal finance authority, the total property tax bill climbed to $9.7081 per $1,000 of the property assessment.

Meaning, a homeowner with a house worth the averaged $174,000 in 2013, paid a combined tax revenue of $1689.21.

The number is higher for Rossland taxpayers who at the end of the day, paid an all-inclusive tax rate of $11.98 per $1,000 of the average $243,000 home assessment value, or $2,911.14.

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