Council makes changes to property tax deadline to help home and business owners hit hard by assessment increases

Property owners who saw significant increases to their taxes following re-assessment will have a bit more time to make their payments.

On Monday, Prince Albert city council passed a motion that extends the deadline for full payment until Nov. 30, 2021. Only commercial property owners who saw their taxes increase by at least 30 per cent and residential property owners who saw an increase of at least $900 will be eligible.

Property owners who qualify must still pay an amount equal to their 2020 assessment by the June 30 deadline. The rest of their taxes are due Nov. 30, without interest or penalties attached. Residents who take part in the City’s TIPP program, or who have financial institutions make tax payments on their behalf, will not be eligible.

Mayor Greg Dionne said he’s not concerned property owners aren’t able to pay their taxes. However, he said the increase would be difficult for some, given how COVID-19 has affected the economy.

“Unfortunately in evaluation years there are winners and losers,” Dionne said during an interview after the meeting. “The problem is some people’s taxes went down, but some people’s taxes went really high…. Part of the problem is you do a revaluation every four years, (and) real estate moves so much in four years.”

The motion received unanimous support from council. The only concerns came from Coun. Blake Edwards, who said he supported the motion, and called it a temporary solution at best.

“There is a portion of the population that got hit hard,” Edwards said during the meeting. “Some commercial properties got hit hard, some residents got smoked on taxation, and there needed to be some better solutions. What those are, I don’t have those answers, but I know that some of the increases are unacceptable.”

Dionne blamed the four-year assessment window for the problem. He said properties should be re-assessed every two years, and plans to push the Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association (SUMA) to adopt a motion calling for the change.

Dionne added that he’s especially concerned that property values will fall once the COVID-19 pandemic ends, meaning residents will be stuck paying high taxes on a property worth very little.

“We’re going to push the government,” he said. “I’m going to ask SUMA to make another motion that we re-evaluate every two years, and that will help control the swings.”