What's up with these assessments?

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March 1, 2016 9:30 AM

Jonathan Torresan holds his latest assessment that tells him his Lloydminster property was appraised at $56,000 more than what he paid for it in December.

Some Lloyd residents question the appraisals of their properties

Property assessment notices being mailed to residents from the city of Lloydminster were a hot potato item at the Your Voice public forum Tuesday night.
One resident, Jonathan Torresan, vowed ahead of time to be at E.S. Laird School to ask officials why the home he purchased in late November was assessed $56,000 more than the December purchase price.
Your Voice ran from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. with many people visiting the assessment booth. 
Torresan, who’s a chartered professional accountant, was one of many residents seeking answers from city officials and the assessor,  KCL Consulting Inc., on how it will affect his personal property taxes.
“Absolutely I was shocked,” said Torresan upon opening his 2016 assessment notice last week.
“I was thinking given the current economic conditions, I could not imagine prices increasing by the percentage reflected in my assessment.”
Property assessment is the process of assigning a dollar value to a property for taxation purposes.
The city has yet to set its 2016 mill rate which is the figure city authorities use to determine the property tax levels for Lloydminster residents.
In 2015, the mill rate was set at 4.1229, unchanged from the previous year due to concerns about the impact of the downturn in the economy on taxpayers.
Property taxes provide about 28  per cent of the city’s annual operating budget for a wide range of services from water supply and distribution and policing to street maintenance, waste management and parks.
“It funds operational projects and, as I understand, capital projects,” said Torresan, who questioned whether some of them are wants or needs that could impact taxes.
He noted everyone is having to tighten their budgets and there are “financial constraints all over the place” in the downturn.
“But for some reasons there’s still things that I’ve seen in capital budgets that could be considered by some as being wants rather than needs,” he said.
Specifically, Torresan points to a potential $2.4 million financial hub software system expenditure as something that could be considered a want rather than a need.
“I’m just questioning whether or not the city is tightening its budget as every other individual and business in Lloydminster is,” he said.
“I am not necessarily saying they are not shouldering their fair weight of cutbacks, but I believe that every other individual is having to make decisions based on a tighter budget.”
KCL conducts market value assessments, which is the amount a property might be expected to sell for if it sold on the open market by a willing seller as of July 1 of the previous year.
Deanna Maher’s property assessment was $20,000 higher than last year, which brought her to Your Voice wanting to know why.
“My concern is I have to pay more property tax where if I were to sell my home tomorrow I wouldn’t get back the $20,000 it had gone up from the previous year,” she said.
Another resident Keith Olson came to Your Voice to understand why his assessment was up $500.
“It’s way higher than we thought with what’s going on in the economy right now,” he said.
“They are valuing our home at a price we can’ even sell it for.
“It should be lower taxes because with our realtor they say there is no way you can get that price right now.”
KCL will hold an assessment open house March 17 at the Meridian Room at City Hall from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. to discuss individual assessments.
Contact the Tax Department at City Hall at 780-875-6184 ext 2124 to book an appointment.
On the back side of city assessment notices are instructions on how to go about getting your appraisal reassessed — a complaint process that’s on Torrent’s priority list.
“That is my goal,” he said.
“I am going through the process of having the property reassessed to ensure that I am not paying a higher percentage than I have to when property tax time comes around.”
The deadline to file a complaint is April 16 and taxes are payable by June 30.
As for Torresan, he said his next step is to become fully informed on the process of property appraisals.
“As I know, the market value of your home is what’s used and applied to a mill rate to decide how much your property taxes are,” he said.
“So if I was to do nothing, yes, my property taxes would be artificially high.”
He said he’s he would be going to Your Voice to learn how the appraisal affects the mill rate so he can move forward and ensure his property taxes are not being overpaid and the process is fair.

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