Homeowners fight huge increases in property taxes

Buffalo Lake homeowners are fighting huge property tax bill increases. More than 40 property owners in the Bolin and Rochon Sands communities in the County of Stettler on the south side of the lake were affected by the jaw-dropping assessments.

Buffalo Lake homeowners are fighting huge property tax bill increases.

More than 40 property owners in the Bolin and Rochon Sands communities in the County of Stettler on the south side of the lake were affected by the jaw-dropping assessments.

Robert Kirk said his total tax bill — which includes school taxes and requisitions for housing, waste management and recreation — jumped to $4,673 from $3,354. That’s just under a 40 per cent increase.

“I was dumbfounded and a little upset,” said Robert Kirk. “Nobody likes to see an assessment of that amount.”

The assessment on property only, not counting structures, went up 55 per cent.

Kirk believes the numbers were skewed because the county’s assessor used only the sale of two properties in the area that both went for high prices.

“I think they got a little too carried away and excited,” he said of the county. “It was a golden opportunity to generate some extra tax revenue.”

Kirk also questions why only 42 properties in the Bolin and Rochon Sands subdivisions were affected. Homeowners in nearby Buffalo View Estates did not see the same tax hikes.

Seven property owners are taking their cases before an assessment appeal hearing at the county offices today.

Among them is Steve Fix, who owns a 900-square-foot cottage in Rochon Sands and saw his tax bill jump more than 50 per cent to $3,700 from $2,400.

“I thought it was unfair and uncalled for,” he said, adding he feels the county manipulated the numbers by taking such a small sample size.

He wants to know why only 42 out of an estimated 325 lakefront lots saw the big increases.

County chief administrative officer Tim Fox did not comment directly on the homeowners’ complaints but said in a prepared statement that provincial legislature allows all property owners to challenge their assessments before an appeal board.

Both sides present their cases and if the board rules in homeowners’ favours they will get revised assessments.

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com

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