Thursday, February 04, 2021 - 9:45 AM

Understanding Civic Assessments

Road reconstruction
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

This article was edited on February 26, 2021 to remove a factual error.