AMHERST, N.S. – Property assessments are still flat, but Amherst’s CAO said it’s not something to panic about.
“It’s not a sky is falling thing,” Greg Herrett said in response to the numbers that show the capped residential assessment in Amherst grew by only 0.63 per cent or $2.4 million to $392.5 million for 2019-20. “Most of our revenue comes from property tax. When our revenue sources remain flat we have to find other ways to address that. Saying that, it’s still early in the process.”
Herrett said the numbers are really no surprise to him, giving demographics and the economy around the province and Atlantic provinces, and it’s something the town continues to address through its 10-year financial projections and yearly organizational review.
“It’s something every other municipality is facing outside of HRM,” he said. “We’ll make adjustments, as we always have.”
Municipalities use the property assessments as part of the exercise in setting their budgets and the tax rate on all properties within their borders.
Cumberland County’s capped residential assessment grew by 2.13 per cent to $1.28 billion from $1.24 billion, while in Oxford the assessment fell by .98 per cent to $46.1 million from $46.5 million.
Commercial assessments, which are not capped, show Amherst’s dropped by 2.5 per cent to $125.3 million while Cumberland County’s fell 3.39 per cent to $330 million and Oxford’s dropped 1.24 per cent to $40.8 million.
Herrett said things are beginning to turn around on the commercial side with a number of building permits issued in the past six months or so for projects in the Amherst and Area Industrial Park, including expansions to GFS Foods, Atlantic Windows and Weston Foods.
At the end of the day, he said, the different amounts to a loss of approximately $100,000 in revenue from residential and commercial properties.
Amherst’s total budget for 2018-19 is $17.5 million.
Lloyd MacLeod, senior commercial manager of the Property Valuation Services Corporation, said the flat numbers are a continuing trend outside Metro Halifax.
“Overall across Nova Scotia, market value sales activity is indicting little change to property assessments for 2019,” MacLeod said. “Some neighbourhoods continue to have stronger market sales as well as an increase in new construction.”
Property owners have begun receiving their assessments in the mail. MacLeod suggested they use the PIN to go online and check out their assessment and if they have any questions to call the PVSC at 1-800-380-7775.
People have 31 days to appeal their assessments with midnight, Feb. 14, the deadline.
Provincially, the total assessment has increased by $2 billion to $108.6 billion. Residential is up 1.9 per cent to $84.3 billion, residential with cap is at $77.4 billion and commercial assessments are up 1.5 per cent to $24.3 billion.
Property values are based on the real estate market as of Jan. 1, 2018 and a property’s physican condition on Dec. 1, 2018.
PVSC also takes into account the physical state of the property, capturing new construction, renovations, demolitions and a change in the property’s use.
The Capped Assessment Program rate is based on the consumer price index in Nova Scotia as of November. For 2019 assessments, the rate is 2.9 per cent.