Slight change expected to Penticton’s tax rate

City's rate will be adjusted to reflect three to four per cent decline in property assessments

Overall, the residents of Penticton won’t be paying any more taxes to the city this year than last, but that doesn’t mean individual homeowners won’t be seeing changes to their property taxes this year.

Earlier this year, Penticton city council adopted the 2013 financial plan which, by drawing on the city’s reserve funds, kept this year’s tax requirement at zero. However, property assessments in the city have dropped by about three to four per cent, according to chief financial officer Doug Leahy.

“The tax rate has an inverse relationship, which means the tax rate has to go up to collect that same amount of revenue. But it will be apportioned across all classes,” said Leahy. “Homeowners may see an increase or a decrease, just depending on how your assessments were in relation to the general average assessment.”

For a residential property assessed at $321,900, average residential taxes show a slight drop, from $1,333 in 2012 to $1,330 this year. Once other tax levies — school, regional district, hospital — and the basic homeowner grant are included, taxes rise to $1,533 this year from $1,526 in 2012.

A tax calculator is available on the city’s website for property owners wishing to estimate what their taxes will be for 2013. It can be found by going to www.Penticton.ca and searching for ‘tax estimator.’

Another factor affecting property taxes in Penticton is the beginning of a shift in the ratio between commercial and residential tax rates. In 2005, when property assessments in the city were skyrocketing, the council of the day voted to increase the multiplier on commercial properties to shift some of the increase on to that side of the tax roll. Now, on the advice of the fiscal review advisory committee, council has directed staff to begin shifting that ratio back.

According to Leahy, that means other classes will be picking up a portion of the tax burden as they shift the multiplier from 1.76 to 1.5 over the course of five years.

“We were approximately shifting $180,000 per year back to the residential,” said Leahy.

He admits that sounds like a lot of money, but said it is not as significant when you consider the residential property assessment totals about $4 billion and the amount will be spread over 13,500 properties.