I have been a resident of Chestermere since 2008. We bought our house new. A standard 2-story, detached home with a non-developed basement. After a casual chat with a fellow Chestermere resident, she kindly alerted me to check my property tax assessment to see if the City has been charging me for a developed basement. Following her advice I did check and, to my surprise, I found that the basement in my house is listed as 100% developed and this has been going back as far as 2011!
The standard tax assessment notice that comes in the mail (you probably just received it recently since it is tax season) does not mention any details or give any break-out as how the property tax is charged. Neither does your tax bill that is going to be mailed later. It only lists the assessed dollar value and that is all.
Short of going to the City personally and ask them for details, about the only way to find out what’s being considered for your property tax is to go to the website referenced by the City (https://webmap.chestermere.ca/Content/Server/Login.aspx), choose “Public Access” and search for your property. It will be highlighted in the map. Click on it and out comes a list of “Assessment Reports by Year”. They only go as far back as 2011. Check the “Improvement Report” to see if your basement is listed as developed. Also look for any other improvements that you may not actually have! The report is a bit cryptic, it states something like “Bsmt Finish (All – %) — Rooms” In plain language this means that your basement is fully finished.
Talking to other residents in my neighbourhood and in Chestermere in general, I was shocked to find out that many of them do not have a developed basement, but yet their property tax report states the contrary. The bad news is, there is no recourse to get back your property tax money from previous years. You can only dispute it with the City for this year’s tax assessment and going forward. You want some more bad news? There does not seem to be any record (at least not posted) for the years prior to 2011. So, no one really knows how far back this practice has been followed by the City.
I feel very upset about this and it seems unfair, and unethical, for the City to charge unsuspecting residents for something they don’t have, and never had. Now it becomes the home owner responsibility to prove the contrary. Just think of all the property tax money that have been charged unjustifiably all those years. You do the math!
I urge all Chestermere residents to check their property tax reports and talk to the City about removing any improvements or upgrades that do not actually exist.