Thursday, February 04, 2021 - 9:45 AM

Understanding Civic Assessments

Road reconstruction
Did you know that that more than two-thirds of the City’s revenue comes from taxation?
Property owners in the City of St. John’s have their properties assessed every three years to determine its current market value. That amount, multiplied by the mill rate, is what determines how much tax you will pay to the City. Property owners in fully-developed areas of the City – with water and sewer, modern roadways, curb and gutter and sidewalks and all the infrastructure needed to offer the full complement of City services – are assessed taking these factors in to mind. When the neighbourhood was constructed in the first place, the developer was responsible for ensuring that those items were in place for you, and the cost of installing that infrastructure was likely built into the purchase price of your property.
In the less developed parts of our City, which may not have access to the City’s water and sewer service or may still have more rural streets, your property value - and your City assessment - reflects that fact, too.
Providing equal access to all essential City infrastructure is a key goal of our annual capital improvements program. The City’s Assessment Policy applies to the upgrading of existing infrastructure and the installation of infrastructure works on City streets.
What are “civic improvements” and how are “civic assessments” applied?
Each year the City conducts a number of different types of civic improvements such as installing water, sanitary and storm sewer mains, street improvements, such as widening of the road, or new sidewalks, curb and gutter.
By legislation, the City of St. John’s assesses the affected properties for costs related to the improvements through a civic assessment. The City of St. John’s Assessment Policy makes sure that all citizens of the City of St. John’s are assessed at the same rate for civic improvement works that are completed within the same year. This offers a measure of stability to the City’s assessment rates and allows citizens to calculate the approximate amount of the assessments before work starts.  
The Assessment Policy has been around since the late 1980s, with rates being set and approved by Council annually before the start of construction season. The policy instructs staff to inform residents before work begins in their neighbourhood. We do that by sending a notice to all property owners who are in the improvement zone.
If you have questions about a civic improvement in your area, contact the Project Engineer named on the bottom of your notice. 


How is the civic assessment calculated?
  1. The Civic Assessment rates are revised and approved annually. Annual rate are adjusted annually to consider changes in construction costs. (Annually adjustment rates are calculated using a number of factors; for more details on what goes into setting the base rate, see sections 4.2 and 4.3 of the Policy)
  2. Depending on what is happening in your neighbourhood, the annual assessment rate is multiplied by your property’s frontage or in the case of water and sewer service laterals, for each lateral provided.  (For details on how these are calculated, read sections 4.4 – 4.9 in the Policy)
How do I pay my civic assessment?
When you get your notice about the upcoming civic improvements, it will include the base assessment rates but not a bill explaining exactly what you will owe when the work is complete; that comes later, after the project is finished.There are a number of ways the bill can be paid:
  • Contact the City within 30 days of receiving the invoice and pay the amount in full and there is no interest charge on the total amount owing. For payment options, contact 576-8077.
  • If you cannot pay in full the City can offer you a mortgage at interest rates much lower than that stated on the bill. You can pay off the assessment yourself over time, understanding that you will be charged a low interest rate by the City for the amount owing.
If you are unable to pay the amount, it is important that you reach out to our staff who can assist you with payment options. Failure to pay a civic assessment, like tax and other municipal fees, results in a lien on your property. Our staff are more than happy to work with you to ensure this does not happen. Contact us at 576-8077 or email