Budgets compared: paying taxes in Masset, Port and Charlotte

  • Apr. 29, 2009 6:00 a.m.

By Alex Rinfret–Are you wondering how your village’s budget compares to the other municipalities on the island? This is the time of year when municipalities are preparing their 2009 budgets. One of the most important decisions councils make during the budget process is how much property owners will pay in taxes. After council adopts the budget, staff prepares tax notices, which property owners receive in early June. Owners then have until July 1 to pay their property taxes. So, how much will residents of the different villages be paying this year? Port Clements’ total tax requisition is $122,000 (no increase from last year), Queen Charlotte’s is $256,000 (up 3.7 percent) and Masset’s is $530,000 (up by about 3 percent). Masset administrator Trevor Jarvis said his village’s tax requisition total includes grants in lieu taxes of about $30,000, which the other villages recorded on a separate line. That would make Masset’s requisition approximately $500,000. To further compare the villages, we took the total property tax requisition and divided it by the population of each village, based on the 2006 census figures. This is simply for comparison purposes and does not reflect anything about actual property taxes, which are based on property values. Here’s what we found:. Queen Charlotte, with a population of 948, will collect $270 per person this year.. Port Clements, with a population of 440, will collect $278 per person this year.. Masset, with a population of 940, will collect $532 per person this year.We asked Mr. Jarvis why Masset’s tax requistion is higher than the other two villages, because there could be a good explanation, but he said he had no idea. “I don’t look at their financial plans at all,” he said. It’s also possible to compare the tax rates of the villages (these rates are draft rates until council gives them final approval). Port residents will pay $4.75 per $1,000 of assessed value on residential property, while Queen Charlotte residents will pay $2.60, and Masset residents will pay $6.22. Although Queen Charlotte’s tax rate is lower, houses in Charlotte generally have higher assessed values than houses in Port. That means Queen Charlotte can raise just as much money, or more, with a lower rate. (This is why it is not that meaningful to compare tax rates between municipalities, unless property values are very similar.) Basically, if you own a house worth $100,000 in Queen Charlotte, you will pay $260 in municipal property tax this year. If you own a $100,000 house in Port, you will pay $475, and if you own that house in Masset, you will pay $622. However, your actual tax bill will be higher because it includes other taxes, like education; the tax you pay could also be lowered if you are eligible for the homeowner’s grant. Besides residential property tax, the villages also collect taxes on properties in other categories like business and industrial. Like most municipalities, the villages on the island charge a higher rate in these other categories. Exactly how much higher is another important decision that councils make. For example, if you own business property in Queen Charlotte, you will pay a tax rate of $7.68 per $1,000 of assessed value this year, or about three times the residential rate (again, this rate is a draft rate until council gives it final approval). In Port, you will pay $9.50, twice the residential rate. In Masset, you will pay $15.24, about two and a half times the residential rate. If you own light industrial property in Charlotte, you will pay a rate of $14.09 this year – over five times the residential rate. In Port, which does not charge any category more than twice the residential rate, you will pay $9.50. And in Masset, you will pay $21.15. The numbers referred to in this article have been rounded off and are taken from the villages’ 2009 financial plans, which are available at the municipal offices. All three villages have given three readings to their plans at this point, but it’s possible for councils to change the budgets up until they give them the final reading. In Queen Charlotte and Port, council plans to give final reading on May 4; in Masset, on May 11.

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