EDITORIAL: Assessments worth studying

Next week, most Nanaimo property owners will receive their property assessments in the mail.

For many, this important piece of information is quickly glanced at and discarded into the junk mail pile – it is accepted simply for what it is.

But with that number comes a wealth of information on how a property is valued, far more than just how much you will be expected to pay in July when taxes are due.

The arrival of assessments is only a small piece of a much larger picture that triggers a complex system of property tax calculations, and how the money collected by the city is used to pay for roads, sewers, recreation facilities, social programs and other services. Part of the property tax each property owner pays also funds the local school district, hospital, library and other services.

As assessments arrive, local politicians are already working to determine how the city will spend the average of $3,000 for each residential property. This year in Nanaimo, the $175-million budget will be fuelled mostly by the $89 million the city will collect in property taxes.

Though a recent survey indicated that 90 per cent of Nanaimo property owners are content with how their tax money is spent, many don't realize how much influence they can have at the local government level, unlike senior levels of government.

How much your largest asset is worth and how the tax money it generates is used to keep public services working are two subjects worth knowing a little bit about.

After all, would you invest $3,000 annually in a stock without doing some research? Hopefully not.

However, if you'd prefer to swallow the blue pill instead of the red pill, there are still many interesting features available on the B.C. Assessment website at www.bcassessment.ca.

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