Several business owners in Vanderhoof are making an appeal to BC Assessment, as some businesses saw property tax increases up to 86 percent on their building value.
André Goulty, owner and accountant of ProTec Accounting And Tax Services in the district, saw his building value increase by eighty-six percent and his concern is not with the value, it is with the fact that there was no heads-up given by BC Assessment.
“I can’t pass on the cost to renters or to customers, because it is just too much,” Goulty said.
“If the net increase is 70 percent, I have to eat that cost. I just feel sidelined in the process. As business owners we plan what we are doing and when you have something that is just dropped in your lap as a big expense, it makes a big difference.”
Another point Goulty made is that at the same time that building value has increased by a significant cost, land value has stayed the same.
“You would think that both land and building values would go up together, so I find their calculations a little wonky.”
He said ideally, BC Assessment would cap the increase in value of the building every year.
Scott Sitter, assessor for the northern BC region, made a presentation to Vanderhoof businesses during a Chamber of Commerce luncheon held at Tasty Tandoori Grill on Jan. 23.
Goulty, along with other business owners were present for the meeting.
When questioned about the substantial increase in building value, Sitter explained to business owners present, that BC Assessment had made a mistake in the past while putting a value to their buildings.
He added that the crown corporation is constantly making upgrades to their system, so businesses don’t have to deal with such increases in tax burdens due to wrong evaluations in the first place.
“At the chamber meeting, they were defending their model. And I think their model works, but they need to add that component in there, that if there is a significant increase, there needs to be something that caps the increase,” Goulty said.
Another business owner in the district, Kevin Wallace of Wallace Studios said in communities like Vanderhoof, small businesses do not have a lot of extra funds “floating around” so it makes a big difference when there are such increases.
Wallace saw an increase of 61 percent in the building value.
“If we felt like we couldn’t absorb it, we would have to figure ways to compensate, whether it is by being more aggressive while going after more business, or by not offering a wage increase to one of our employees who is very valuable to us.”
“This then becomes an economic burden on Vanderhoof as well because my employee’s spending within the community will go down too,” he said.
For Wallace, he says his building saw a dip in value in 2018, which they assumed as a market shift, which isn’t consistent with a 61 percent increase in value this year.
“It isn’t about the value of the property, it is how they got there. The idea that if there was a mistake made, they could have said gradually over a period of time, you are going to see these increases. Then, there isn’t a huge burden all of a sudden on building owners.”
Meanwhile, Dean Scott, owner of Scott’s Grille & Pizzeria, had appealed to BC Assessment last year as his building which was originally assessed at $60,000 went up to $500,000.
“So I argued it with BC Assessment and used a couple of other restaurants in town as examples, because those buildings on Main Street who have a similar business to mine, were just up in the $300,000. So I was trying to figure out why I was in the 500s.”
He won the appeal last year, and had the value decreased, but Scott says his valuation is back up to $500,000 again.
“They agreed last year that my particular building was over-assessed, so they reduced it. And now its back, so I am going to appeal it again.”
The deadline to file an appeal to the Property Assessment Review Panel is Jan. 31, 2020.