This topic has been part of our newsletters since early 2016 but the concern from our members has really picked up this tax year. The reason is that BC Assessment has done what they said they would do and have used aerial photographs to identify properties with docks. We believe they still do not have all the docks but have identified most docks on the main arm of Shuswap Lake including some semi waterfront properties. Here is a summary of where we are at with this initiative:
• In 2015 BC Assessment only sent folios for docks that were registered with the Province followed by separate tax notices. These property owners were told to add the two folios together to compare their property values with previous assessments. They were also told this would not result in an increase in taxes – this did not end up being true because these property owners now pay twice for parcel tax items.
• The splitting of the folios is because we own our property but we ‘lease’ the crown land we use for our docks. BC Assessment says the different types of ownership requires separate folios
• SWOA took their concerns to the Regional District Board and after discussion they agreed that we should not have to pay Parcel Tax twice but it was administratively onerous for them to change this. Individually we pay about $25 more in taxes annually but they would have to hire another staff person to manually identify the extra folios and remove the extra tax.
• SWOA also made a formal complaint with the Office of the Ombudsperson. The result was that although not fair the government does have the legislative authority to do what they are doing.
• This action by BC Assessment is happening in other areas of the Province. West Kelowna Council discussed it with the Province at the Union of BC Municipalities meeting in 2016 without success.
• SWOA has been contacted by Associations from Christina Lake, West Lake on Nelson Island as well as Sproat Lake on Vancouver Island – these are areas of the Province concerned about BC Assessment issuing folios for docks
• The question remains – why? – this is costing plenty in government labour with no increase in tax dollars – who benefits?
• SWOA continues to communicate with both local government and the Province siting the fairness issue as well as the waste of government resources
What can you do….
…we encourage you to write to your MLA Greg Kyllo email@example.com and your CSRD Director for North Shuswap Larry Morgan LMorgan@csrd.bc.ca
for South Shuswap Paul Demenok PDemenok@csrd.bc.ca
for Area E/Rural Sicamous Rhona Martin RMartin@csrd.bc.ca
…if you feel your total assessment (adding your two folios together) is unfair you can register a complaint with the assessment office. The deadline for this year has passed but your concern can be used to have a re-assessment for next year.