Sunday, April 22, 2007

Property assessments are too high!

Like many others, the property assessment on my modest home went up again and therefore my taxes also went up again. And like others, I sent in my Notice of Reference to the assessment office – this is the first stage in the appeal process. And I had a visit from an assessor.

Apparently the assessors are quite busy at this time of year. The assessor who visited my property was a pleasant man who is just doing his job. We went through my house and around the outside and he took notes of everything.

I’m anticipating that I’ll hear back in a few weeks that they will not lower my assessment. But at least I made the province spend more money on sending an assessor to my place – if they want my money they’ll have to earn it.

A couple of points I want to mention about the assessment process...

First, apparently they don’t compare houses to each other. In other words, the assessor did not want to hear about the huge house down the street whose assessment is only about $30-40 thousand more than mine, even though it is double the size and brand new. This is one reason assessments are so out of wack. I think you have to appeal every year or else it keeps going up and up.

Second, what they do is to look at my property and then compare it to similar properties that have recently been sold to determine how much mine is worth – market value. Essentially I’m being penalized because other people are crazy enough to overpay for a small house like mine. I’m still not sure how that is my fault. I bought a house at a reasonable price several years ago because that was the price of property I could afford (including the yearly taxes). Now it has gone up by 50% in assessment, but it is still the same house (we did not do any improvements other than paint and necessary minor repairs). At some point I won’t be able to afford to live in this house due to the ever rising assessments – does that make sense?

As I was chatting with the assessor he suggested some potential changes to the system that he heard from others, but none addressed my concerns. One was that the assessment could be frozen or capped, and when the house is eventually sold anything above the assessed value would go to the municipality – Not a good idea!

So I suggested an adjustment to the assessment process that just might work … and here it is:

When a property is sold, the selling price becomes the new assessment. This makes sense since assessments are based on market value and the only time you know the market value of a property is when it is sold. So if I buy a house for $100000, then the assessment should also be $100000. Next the assessed value should be frozen at that amount for a few years (3 to 5) to give the new owners a little certainty. After that the assessment should go up by the rate of inflation each year, which is usually somewhere around 2%. This would be fair and give homeowners a fighting chance. And property owners can plan their budgets for the future since they’ll know what the assessed value of the property is. It can be quite a surprise when the $100000 property in this example all of a sudden becomes a $250000 property because some people built or bought bigger and more expensive homes next door.

I’d encourage every property owner in NB to appeal you assessments every single year – make them work for your money … unless of course you know that you assessed too low, then just keep quiet.

Before anyone gives me heck, I know that taxes can still rise if/when the tax rate rises, but at least council or government will have to justify this rate increase and the voters can have a say.

The Stiles’ explanation of their defection

Some thoughts on the Stiles’ explanation of why they left the Tory party … Gee, I wonder …

They said something like, “Over the last few years, we’ve been unhappy with the party and the leadership…” I think that was Wally’s quote, but it doesn’t matter which one said it. Since this has gone on for years, why not leave before the last election? Obviously because they thought the Tories were going to win the election.

Wally also said that as he went door to door in his campaign many said they want to vote for him, but cannot give a vote for Bernard Lord. Wally then added that the voters were voting for them as opposed to the party. I wonder how many votes Wally (and Joanie) received because they were part of the Lord team?

And finally they went on and on about how they can do more in power than in opposition or as independents … Of course, BUT your team lost the election. It is unethical to jump to the winning team. Maybe ALL MLAs should do that. I your party loses the election, everyone switches to the winning side … that would be GREAT for democracy and our electoral system, wouldn’t it? That was a touch of sarcasm by the way.

Here are their interviews that ran on CBC radio in Moncton and Saint John.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Rats are leaving the ship... I mean the Stiles'

So, the Stiles' provided their reasons for leaving the Tory party. It was the usual blah blah blah that politicians give when they move the party in power, stuff like ... our party doesn't appreciate us … they have no vision for NB … there’s too much arguing in the Legislature … and so on…

I almost forgot, Wally said that the turmoil in the Tory party is because they are having trouble adjusting to life in opposition – Ya think so, huh Wally? Not you though, you’ll have no trouble making that adjustment, maybe ‘cause you don’t have to - now do you?

I have a novel idea … how about sticking with your party and help to give them the direction that is lacking and get the party back on track! You two, especially Joan, are veteran MLAs and Tory party stars. Don’t you think the party could use your talents at a time like this to get back to their former glory?

I guess it’s easier to save your skins and jump ship! And you (politicians) wonder why the public has so little trust in you.

Is there no more loyalty? You bash Shawn Graham during the election campaign, saying he is unfit to be premier, and now you both praise him and say that he’s the second coming of Bernard Lord!! Isn’t that just a little hypocritical? There’s no doubt who these two are looking out for in their political careers and it’s not their constituents – its themselves!

I hope the voters cry out for that by-election that they deserve and vote both of them out.

Can you tell that this angers me? How arrogant can politicians be to think that they alone can decide that the thousands of voters in their ridings are all wrong in how they voted? How out-of-touch are they to through principles of democracy out the window saying that they know better than the uneducated Neanderthals that are in their ridings. This has got to stop at every level of politics – this is not what Canada is all about!

Speak up NB and don’t let them get away with it … BTW, Premier Graham is just as bad as the Stiles’ for accepting them in this way – without giving the voters their say!

Family Stiles mocks democracy

Here we go again ... a couple opposition MLAs in NB cross the floor to sit with the governing Liberal party, basically spitting on democracy.

Here's what I say to Mr. Wally Stiles and Mrs. Joan MacAlpine-Stiles...

What gives you the right to make this move? You were elected as Tories by the voters in your ridings ... if the voters wanted Liberals representing them they would have voted for the Liberal candidates. Members of your riding expect you to work in opposition to keep the government accountable and make sure that they keep their promises.

It seems that the Stiles have so little regard for their constituents that they are unwilling to work in opposition until the next election ... well the only proper thing to do is for both to step down and run in bi-elections in their ridings ... and by the way the cost of the bi-elections should be covered by the NB Liberal party and NOT the taxpayers - if Shawn Graham wants these two then his party can cover the cost of the bi-elections.

Or they can simply quit and the NB Tory party can appoint Tories to take over their ridings - I know this is not very democratic either, but we have to keep people from constantly jumping to the governing party and ignoring the wishes of the voters ....

Shawn Graham, the ball is in your court, what are you going to do to protect democracy in NB - let's stand up for the voters and call bi-elections in these two ridings immediately, at your party's expense.

I can't wait for their explanations as to why they can no longer work with the Tory party and how the Liberals reflect better their views and family values ... Maybe they have good reasons!

I'm just wondering, would the Stiles be joining the Liberals if the Tories had won the election? Not a chance!

Monday, April 16, 2007

This is only the beginning....

As you can see I just opened this blog as a place to voice my opinions and ideas about New Brunswick, Canada. Much of it will be about politics - what a great spectator sport - but I reserve the right to post almost anything that comes into my head.

Hopefully some will be interesting and some will be original ... and maybe even entertaining.

Check back soon as I try to make time for my views and ideas to improve life in NB.

see ya soon,