It’s never fun when the tax man comes calling. And it’s particularly jarring in December when instead of a Christmas card, it’s a tax bill in the mail.
That’s what happened in Trail following property value reassessments of two apartment complexes, one downtown and the other in East Trail.
Now the city owes $8,864 back to the government since the buildings were reassessed at the request of BC Housing.
Trail Mayor Mike Martin points out lowering property values on BC Housing facilities is one more way the province is saving money on the backs of B.C. taxpayers.
“At no point have senior levels of government really looked at or provided local government or municipalities with any other avenues by which to increase revenue generation apart from property taxes,” Martin said. “So we are faced with either cutting services to make up for that shortfall or increasing taxes to other rate payers.”
He’s also disappointed with the timing of the news from BC Assessment’s Kootenay Columbia Region.
“We operate a balanced budget based on all the information we had going into 2015,” he explained. “Then get this late notification that we now owe BC Housing $8,800,” he added. “And this is not just retroactive for 2015, it will affect revenue going forward because assessment rolls don’t usually change once fixed in place.”
And it’s not just the city impacted by lower re-assessed values.
The Regional District of Kootenay Boundary was hit with a $5,900 bill; the school district $6,200 and the regional hospital board, $615, following the reduction in value of the two Trail buildings.
“So it manifests itself in many other ways,” Martin told the Trail Times. “We are talking about it from a Trail perspective but the regional district and school will be faced with exactly the same situation – they will also have to find way to deal with this lower tax revenue. The impact is broader than Trail – it’s province-wide.”
There were approximately 500 properties owned or operated by BC Housing that under went review this year, confirmed Ranaish Shah from Kootenay Columbia’s Nelson-based offices.
About one quarter of those were appealed during the 2015 appeals process.
“As part of the review and working our way through those appeals, we realized many of these properties had restrictions in terms of the rent that could be charged,” he explained. “We hadn’t reflected that on the assessment rolls, so a decision was made to reflect those restrictions and the result is the values have changed.”
Market value for the two buildings would likely differ, he added.
“So that’s what we are reflecting at this point in time,” Shah clarified. “In some cases the restriction is registered on the title so even if that building sells to another person, the (rent) restriction would still be in place.”
Combined, the value of the Trail buildings fell almost $2.2 million since the previous assessment.
The first is Silver City Gardens, located on Columbia Avenue, which is owned by Canadian Mental Health. Assessed at almost $2.8 million in 2014, the property value is now $1.2 million. The other is Jubilee Place on Bay Ave. Listed as provincial rental housing, the 35-unit complex is currently assessed at $901,000, which is $526,000 less than last year.
“The BC Housing Authority is the organization that raised the issue and sought relief through appeals that were launched,” said David Perehudoff, Trail’s chief administrative officer. “Assessments were adjusted in 2015 so they will get a refund of property taxes paid this year and the lower assessment will be used going forward,” he added. “In total (for 2015) the properties will realize property tax relief in the amount of $21,767.”