Subject: Fwd: Gerda’s response to Tyler Olsen’s tax math questioning
To: Tyler Olsen – Abbynews

Hi Tyler:  I knew you were technically correct, but I also know that lots of our residents see their taxes rising when old neighbourhoods change to bigger and denser housing.  Rising taxes can force people out of the homes they could afford.  We ought to question the assumption that taxes rise, because that’s just the way it is.  Should we celebrate that Abbotsford is getting bigger and more crowded with no discernible increase in quality of life or City services to justify increased taxation.

So I asked Richard to put his math mind to work for me.

———- Forwarded message ———
From: Richard Peachey <>
Date: Sun, Oct 14, 2018 at 9:08 PM
Subject: Gerda’s response to Tyler Olsen’s tax math questioning
To: Gerda Peachey <>

At about 11:14 in the video:
GERDA: “If your community gets rezoned, you’re sacrificing all right. Because if the last of the affordable housing goes, and that is happening in Abbotsford. The last of the little communities are being pulverized. And what’s coming in is monster houses that, as you know, I’m making no bones about it, those are paid for by illegal suites. I don’t know what percent, I think I’d be absolutely accurate if I said 90% of those monster houses have illegal suites. And that’s how they pay for them. And that creates such a resentment, such an imbalance in Abbotsford. And then, high density takes the place of the last of the affordable housing. So high density creates lots of housing for other people who aren’t here yet. If we’re looking at 60,000 more people who aren’t currently here, well, where are they going to go? They’re going to go to the last of these little communities. So the taxes — for those of you who still can hang in there — the taxes go up because the houses all around you are much higher value in terms of the assessment — BC Assessment — taxes go up; the neighbourhood changes —”
TYLER: “But that’s happening all across the city, right? If the houses go up by the same — if your house has gone up 40% but the average has gone up 40%, you’re not actually paying any more taxes.
GERDA: “Well, that’s what people say — my neighbours and people in Abbotsford will tell you that that’s not so. When there’s a house in the neighbourhood that is now $800,000 and the rest of you are, like, $400,000, yes, in fact, the taxes do start to go up. You know, the reality and the story aren’t always the same thing.”

TYLER: “Isn’t it just math, though? That if your property goes up more than average one year, you will be paying more than average that year, but if it goes up less than average the next year, you’ll be paying less than average next year.

GERDA: “Well —”
TYLER: “How would it work if that math was —?”
GERDA: “Well, I’ve noticed in your questions that you’re a lot sharper on math than I am, so I’m going to have to let you have that point.”
TYLER: “All right.” [Moves on to another topic.]
Richard’s comment on the above:
You’re both right.
On the one hand, Tyler’s math remarks (bolded above) are fully correct. But they’re quite general (not specific to any particular neighbourhood situation), and they appear to ignore your issue that within a particular neighbourhood there may be one or more factors tending to drive up property value assessments more than general market conditions alone would tend to increase them.
But you are also correct, and your point is not invalidated by Tyler’s general remarks. You are focusing on neighbourhoods that had in the past consisted of relatively affordable housing but whose assessed property values are (you allege) driven up by greater-than-average increases in nearby properties — increases that you are connecting with illegitimate activity. While paying lipservice to maintaining affordable housing that still exists in Abbotsford, the authorities are effectively undermining affordability in those few remaining neighbourhoods by permitting monster houses (even on agricultural lands!) and failing to equally enforce bylaws against illegal suites.

The mill rate is the amount of tax payable per dollar of the assessed value of a property. The mill rate is based on “mills.” It is a figure that represents the amount per $1,000 of the assessed value of property, which is used to calculate the amount of property tax.

Mill Rate – Investopedia