By Ruby Pratka
Local Journalism Initiative
Residents of several Brome-Missisquoi municipalities are dealing with sticker shock as three-year property evaluation rolls are released. In Cowansville, the value of an average single-family home is nearly 60 per cent higher than it was three years ago, and property values have increased by an average of 50.43 per cent. In Bromont, residential property values rose by an average of 49.6 per cent, and commercial property values by more than 25 per cent.
Property values around Brome-Missisquoi skyrocketed during the COVID-19 pandemic as city dwellers took advantage of the rise of telecommuting to move to the country. “As is the case in the majority of cities in the region and elsewhere in Quebec, property values are experiencing a marked increase. Since the new role is [released] every three years, we had a reprieve before feeling the repercussions of the pandemic on property values,” Cowansville mayor Sylvie Beauregard said.
Beauregard assured property owners that their property taxes will not go up by 50 per cent when the 2024 tax rates are released in December. “Your property value on the roll is not your tax account,” she said. “The current tax rate is $0.94 per $100 [of assessed value] and we can’t maintain that – we’ll have to bring it down, so [the increase in value] has the least possible impact on citizens.”
Bromont mayor Louis Villeneuve made similar assurances. “The city has no power over property assessment. … The tax rate will be reviewed based on these new values,” explained the mayor of Bromont, Louis Villeneuve. “The municipal council will act responsibly to avoid a general increase [while] taking into account inflation and the obligations of the municipality,” he said in a statement.
Beauregard said Cowansville would most likely “have to postpone certain projects” because decreasing the tax rate would lead to a decrease in revenue. “We need salt for snow removal, we need to maintain the water treatment plant, and we have employees that have collective agreements that we need to respect,” she said. “We need to reduce expenses elsewhere while still giving services.”
She said she “would be surprised” if a tax increase caused people to decide to leave the city. “The situation is similar in the surrounding municipalities…everything is more expensive, everything has gone up, interest rates have gone up. That’s not good for property owners. That’s not us, that’s the market, but we’re aware [of the impact]. We just have to hope the economy settles down.”
Cowansville plans to release its 2024 budget, including the adjusted taxation rates, on Dec. 18. Property owners will receive tax notices in January 2024.