Service New Brunswick has made a lot of mistakes in its property assessments this year but few as large as the $177,800 clunker it dropped on newlyweds Julie MacLean and Mark Robinson.
"We were shocked," said MacLean. "We weren't sure what we were going to do. We couldn't afford it."
Following a review this week, Service New Brunswick [SNB] has given the couple's New Maryland home outside of Fredericton a value of $169,200, less than half the $347,000 assessment they received in the mail four weeks ago.
The couple paid $170,000 for the home last April after it sat empty and unsold for more than two years.
It perfectly fit their needs.
"We're first-time homeowners," said MacLean. "We are living on a very tight budget. We watch our money very carefully."
When the first assessment arrived it was more than double what the two had paid for the house. Even worse, SNB had raised the tax bill $1,300 beyond the legal limit of the 10 per cent increase allowed for a single year on properties where no renovations had been made.
It all threatened the couple's carefully planned finances.
"We had just got home from putting a down payment on a used car and we got the assessment," said MacLean.
"The timing made it so much worse and we were not sure at all what we were going to do. We couldn't afford it. It was definitely very stressful."
MacLean said she was getting nowhere trying to have her concerns addressed by SNB until revelations emerged last week about widespread problems with assessments this year.
"It blows my mind that they thought they could get away with it and that it happened in the first place. It's such a large number of people to be affected in such a massive way," said MacLean.
"I'm glad there was a whistleblower and it was brought to light."