STEPHENVILLE — Mayor Tom O’Brien said when property owners open their property assessments that are expected to be in the mail next week he doesn’t want them to be overly alarmed.
He made the comment at the regular general meeting of the Stephenville town council on Thursday, noting there is a jump of about an average of 30 per cent in the value of residential property assessments expected, while business properties are expected to rise an average of 15 per cent from the last assessments.
O’Brien said the town needs money to operate and there are increasing costs, so when council carries out its budget deliberations during the next couple of months members will be taking into consideration the hikes in the residential property assessments and do some calculations to reduce the mill rate in accordance.
He said council is not responsible for doing the property assessments, which are done by the Municipal Assessment Agency Inc., a Crown corporation governed by a representative board of directors.
O’Brien said what the town council does have control over is the mill rate and by adjusting it the impact of the higher assessments can be lessened.
“I guess what I’m saying is not to panic when you see how much your assessment has gone up because we (council) will be adjusting the mill rate to help out,” he said.
Coun. Laura Aylward said she had heard the assessments had actually jumped about 80 per cent in St. George’s and that’s a concern for the town council there.
O’Brien said because town councils are in full control of the mill rate adjustments can be made and he believes that’s the logical and prudent thing to do.
“It’s ludicrous that we could make our residents pay that kind of a jump and I’m sure the town council in St. George’s will be faced with having to do something similar. You (council) need to be responsible and not charge people any more than you have to,” he said.
Overall some people’s taxes will end up going up and others possibly even dropping a little because the property assessments are not always revenue neutral.