Property tax appeals surge 59 per cent in 1 week

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The number of people appealing their property tax bills accelerated sharply last week following a string of controversies over inaccurate tax notices and government admissions that it miscalculated a large number of assessments.

Service New Brunswick says it received 2,335 requests for an assessment review between March 10 and March 17, up 59 per cent from the number filed between March 3 and March 9.

Local Government Minister Serge Rousselle said the growing number of appeals is a credit to his government because it voluntarily disclosed assessment mistakes and alerted property owners to problems.

"There has been so much publicity and we are so transparent that, during the past week, there was an increase in the requests for review," said Rouselle.

"We are transparent. We are working hard to make sure that New Brunswickers know what happened."

2,400 bills 'miscalculated'

CBC News began reporting March 10 about "widespread errors" in property tax bills around the province, including how hundreds of homeowners had their taxes raised more than double the annual legal limit of 10 per cent.

The province initially dismissed the issue, but on March 13 acknowledged "miscalculating" 2,400 bills.

Although it committed to fixing the mistakes, Service New Brunswick has never explained the nature of the miscalculations, what caused them and whether they involved errors in assessments or taxes or both.

Service New Brunswick Minister Ed Doherty has responded to no questions in the legislature about the controversy despite members from both opposition parties asking 29 property tax questions over seven straight sitting days.

On Thursday questions posed to Doherty by Opposition Leader Blaine Higgs and Gagetown-Peticodiac MLA Ross Wetmore about Service New Brunswick's handling of the issue were once again all fielded by Rousselle. 

"People are aware of the problem," said Rousselle.  "We are open and transparent."

With the spike in objections filed last week, the total number of requests of property owners asking for a review was at 4,125 as of March 17.