WKRA challenges B.C. property assessments

The West Kelowna Residents Association is asking whether or not B.C. property assessments are on the money.

The West Kelowna Residents Association is asking whether or not B.C. property assessments are on the money.

In 2010, the WKRA formed a committee to look at West Kelowna property assessments.

“We took some areas and looked at the assessments and the change in assessments on each property within those neighbourhoods. There were certain streets that we picked, essentially out of the blue,” said Joe Lavigne, president of the West Kelowna Residents’ Association.

Initial analysis indicated that the assessments at the neighbourhood level had significant anomalies. Similar anomalies were also found in the 2011 assessments.

The association submitted its analytical information on neighbourhoods, specific cases and lakefront properties to Westside-Kelowna MLA Ben Stewart. Stewart then arranged to have the Kelowna office of the B.C. Assessment Authority (BCA) analyze the findings.

The groups met twice in June and October of 2011.

“In the initial meeting, we presented the anomalies we had found. At the last meeting, the BCA essentially said, ‘Yes, we know that there are some anomalies and some that are quite a ways off,'” said Lavigne.

“But overall, they’re within the guidelines that they have to follow; they’re actually quite a bit better. I think the standards are quite low for assessors.”

It was determined that 71 per cent of the properties examined fell within the acceptable plus-minus 2.5 per cent of median. The BCA indicated that 29 per cent were anomalies.

Lavigne said that the outcome of the meetings was that the BCA agreed to be more diligent and would look at the West Kelowna Residents’ Association report every year.

“We’re going to monitor the situation for a few more years to see that there are less anomalies than there have been.”

According to Lavigne, it is important for property owners to do their homework to ensure that their assessment is fair.

“That homework is getting easier. It used to be that only the BCA would put the info online, and for a limited amount of time.

“The District of West Kelowna has put the assessments (online) for the past four years. That information is available so you can compare your assessment to your entire neighbourhood.”

The BCA will publish assessment values, by neighbourhood, in early January, 2012. The West Kelowna Residents Association is encouraging anyone who is dissatisfied with the measure of fairness and consistency to appeal his/her assessment.

The residents association will also be providing a hands-on workshop on Wednesday, Feb. 15, from 7 to 8 p.m. at the Westbank Library.

wpaterson@kelownacapnews.com

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