Steve McArthur, who is the Account Manager of the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation for the Nipissing and Parry Sound Districts, says the new property assessments for all homeowners are going out to homeowners by the end of the year.

McArthur is telling people now to take a close look at the assessments to make sure a correct value has been assigned to their homes.

McArthur made the suggestion at a meeting of West Nipissing council where one councillor pointed out how MPAC values have a consequence of forcing taxes up on people’s homes even if they haven’t done anything to those homes in years.

McArthur says MPAC determines property assessments based on the market value of homes.

In the case of West Nipissing, McArthur says the municipality has seen continued growth over the last several years which has seen home prices rise.

But with that rise in property prices also came higher assessed values and that triggered higher taxes.

It’s this triggering effect that has Councillor Yvon Duhaime worried.

Duhaime says while homes are now worth more, there are people who can’t afford to live in them anymore because they don’t have enough to pay for the extra tax dollars applied to their house.

“You live your whole life in an area and then you’re pushed away because you can’t afford to live there anymore, it’s not right,” Duhaime said.

“It’s fine that (the home) is worth more, but do we really want to sell it?  Grandpa built it, but now we have to move away because we can’t afford the taxes.”

McArthur acknowledged Duhaime’s concern but had to solution.

He said it’s something that happens in many municipalities and is problematic.

He knows of instances where someone pays a lot of money for a home only to tear it down so they can build a more expensive dwelling.

McArthur points out this action forces up the value of other nearby homes and then the taxes also rise once the area is reassessed.

McArthur says properties are reassessed every four years.

He says if the reassessment for any home has gone up, the value is phased in over four years so that the homeowner isn’t impacted all at once.

McArthur adds if the home is reassessed at a lower value, then the full assessment of that lower amount is applied immediately.

McArthur says there are ways for people to have the system take a second look at their property.

He says once homeowners start getting their assessment notices at the end of this year, they can ask MPAC to carry out a Request for Reconsideration.

McArthur says that’s why people need to take a close look at their notices when they arrive in the mail.

If the Request for Reconsideration doesn’t result in a new value for the home, the owner can appeal to the Assessment Review Board, which is arms-length from MPAC.

McArthur says homeowners should visit www.aboutmyproperty.ca

The site allows them to compare their home’s property value to other nearby homes so they can start the reconsideration process.

McArthur had another matter for West Nipissing council to consider.

In addition to housing prices having gone up, he said farmland in the municipality has also increased significantly.

He says just like with homes assessed at higher values, farmland can also be expected to be assessed at higher values and that will mean higher taxes in the future.