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Assessment notices in the mail

Keep an eye on that assessment notice coming in the mail because you’ve got limited time to challenge the number if you think your home is over-valued and you’ll pay too much in taxes.

Jan. 31 is the deadline for challenging that number with B.C. Assessment. After that, you’ll be stuck and your tax bill will show that and no amount of complaining to the municipality will change it.

B.C. Assessment mailed out more 187,000 of the notices at the end of the year to people in the Fraser Valley.

The assessment notices show the market value of properties based on the preceding July and the numbers behind them are used by municipalities to calculate the exact tax rates.

Property values in the Fraser Valley haven’t changed much in the last year, according to B.C. Assessment.

“Most homes in the Fraser Valley have remained stable in value compared to last year’s assessment roll,” said John Green, deputy assessor.

“Most home owners in the Fraser Valley will see minimal changes in the value of their properties.”

Overall, the Fraser Valley’s assessment roll increased from $85.9 billion last year to $88 billion this year. Most of this growth was due to subdivisions, rezoning and new construction.

Maple Ridge financial general manager Paul Gill said preliminary numbers from B.C. Assessment show that the increase in residential property values in Maple Ridge climbed by only one per cent, meaning there should be only slight changes in property values.

An average home in Maple Ridge valued at $410,000 will see another $131 added on to the tax bill, reflecting the 5.57 per cent increase approved by council in December as part of the financial plan.

However, commercial class properties in Maple Ridge jumped by 10 per cent, which means the tax rate will be decreased, to reflect the higher property values.

The stability in prices contrasts with last year, when homes in Silver Valley went up by 14 per cent in value in 2011 from the year before.

In Albion, they jumped by 11 per cent. Both areas were recovering from decreases of about five per cent the year before.

In contrast, properties in lower Hammond, near the Fraser River, showed a drop of 2.3 per cent, following a drop of 6.4 per cent in 2010.

Pitt Meadows director of corporate services Dean Rear said property values in the city have remained flat over the past year and homeowners shouldn’t see any drastic changes in assessment notices.

According to B.C. Assessment, sample property values have even dropped from the year before.

A sample condo in Pitt Meadows went from $187,000 last year to $181,000 this year, while a condo in Maple Ridge had the same decrease, down to $200,000.

Single family home values in Maple Ridge though climbed by $3,000.

Pitt Meadows council recently approved a budget calling for a 3.9-per-cent increase in municipal taxes.

“Property owners who feel that their property assessment does not reflect market value as of July 1, 2011 or see incorrect information on their notice should contact our office as indicated on their notice as soon as possible in January,” said Green.

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