About your property assessment, tax rate, and tax notice
In addition to the amount of municipal taxes you owe, your property tax notice includes utility user fees and taxes collected for other agencies on your behalf.
Here are the details of those additional amounts, along with information about how your taxes are calculated.
Understanding your property assessment and tax rate
Your property assessment is calculated by BC Assessment, a provincial crown corporation that classifies and values properties throughout BC.
While municipal governments don't control these assessments, we use the valuations to calculate the amount of property tax payable for each property, as required by law. Residential taxes are based on the total average assessed value for all residential properties in the District.
How property assessment increases impact property taxes
There are a number of factors that can affect your property assessment. Renovating your home, for instance, can lead to an increase in value. Sales of properties in your neighbourhood can also lead to an increase, as BC Assessment uses market data to determine property value.
An increase in your property's assessed value does not mean you will see a corresponding increase in your property taxes.
As this graph shows, over a seven-year period, our property tax increase has remained consistent at about 3% (2% for inflation and 1% for replacing ageing infrastructure) despite the significant variations in assessed values in the last number of years.
How property taxes are calculated
The average decrease in 2019 assessed values across all residential properties in the District is 1.27%.
How much your property taxes change from year to year depends on the change in your assessment value relative to the rest of residential properties in the District.
If your assessment value increased above the District average, you will see a higher than average increase in property taxes, and vice versa.
The method for calculating the annual tax levy for each property is set by provincial legislation.
How property assessments impact your overall tax bill
The tax notice you receive each year has three components:
- Other agencies — Levies we collect on behalf of Metro Vancouver, Translink, and the Province of BC for school tax
- Municipal taxes — Annually adjusted levies for municipal services and infrastructure maintenance/replacement
- Utility user fees — Flat rate fees for water, sewer, garbage, and recycling. 44% of this fee goes directly to Metro Vancouver
Only #1 and #2 are based on your property's assessed value.
Each year, we develop a financial plan to determine the cost of providing all of our services to the community. By provincial legislation we are only allowed to collect the amount of tax we need to deliver that plan.
Our financial plan must be approved by Council.
Taxes we collect on behalf of other agencies
The Provincial Government (school taxes)
As a property owner, you are required to pay school taxes, to fund the public education system. Paying school tax is not based on whether or not you actually use the school system, but on the assumption that we all benefit from a strong public school system.
Under the School Act the province sets the tax rate and we are responsible for levying and collecting those taxes on their behalf.
Additional School Tax (new for 2019)
Starting in 2019, an additional school tax applies to most high-valued residential properties in the province.
BC Assessment Authority
We also collect taxes on behalf of BC Assessment, to help fund their annual independent assessment of all properties in BC.
Metro Vancouver is responsible for the Lower Mainland's regional services (water, sewer, solid waste, regional parks).
We collect taxes on their behalf which go toward funding the daily administration of their mandate. They also bill us for utility services, which represent a portion of the total utilities you pay on your tax bill.
TransLink is responsible for planning, financing, and managing our region's transportation services. They also share responsibility with Metro Vancouver municipalities for the major road network and cycling infrastructure.
We collect taxes on their behalf to offset both local transportation projects and the major initiatives that take place across the region.
The Municipal Finance Authority
The Municipal Finance Authority (MFA) provides long-term, interim, and capital equipment financing to regional districts and their member municipalities.
The MFA has the highest municipal bond rating in North America, allowing BC communities to finance infrastructure at the lowest possible rates.
How the municipal property tax system works
There are two key factors that affect your municipal taxes:
- Revenue requirement — the amount of money we need to provide services and infrastructure for the year
- Assessment base — the total assessed value of all properties in the District
How we determine the revenue requirement
The Community Charter mandates that, annually, each municipality must adopt a financial plan and balanced budget before setting its tax rate.
To do this, we conduct an extensive annual review of costs and non-tax revenue sources, in order to determine the tax revenue required.
This annual review is conducted through an open, public process.
How we determine the assessment base
BC Assessment is a provincial crown corporation that classifies and values each property in the province, to provide a stable base for property taxation in BC.
The assessment base is determined each year by using BC Assessments, which are based on market values as of July of the previous year .
Using the revenue requirement and assessment base to calculate tax rate
We divide our revenue requirement by the assessment base to come up with a municipal tax rate.
That tax rate is then applied to every property, based on individual assessments, to come up with each person's municipal tax payable. We also collect annual municipal utility charges and taxes on behalf of other agencies.
|District revenue requirement||$85,000,000|
|Tax rate (revenue requirement divided by assessment base)||0.236%|
|Your property assessment||$1,000,000|
|Your municipal tax payable (property assessment x 0.236% tax rate)||$2,360 (a)|
|Taxes collected for other agencies (your assessment x 0.187% rate)||$1,870 (b)|
|Utility user fees||$1,500 (c)|
|Total charges for taxes and utility (a+b+c)||$5,730|
Your utility user fees
Fees pay for both District utilities and the District's share of Metro Vancouver's utility operation and infrastructure costs.
Fees collected on behalf of Metro Vancouver represent 44% of a total utility budget of $63 million, and are not within municipal discretion.
The District continues to manage utility fees in alignment with capital requirements and reserve needs. The 2019 utility rates support the cost of providing current levels of service and the condition of the existing infrastructure as per our asset management plans.
2019 utility budget (in millions)