To the editor:
In 2010 the West Kelowna Residents’ Association formed a committee to look at West Kelowna property assessments. Initial analysis indicated that the assessments at the neighbourhood level had significant anomalies; namely some assessments seemed neither fair nor consistent. Similar anomalies were also found to exist in the 2011 assessments. The objective throughout our review was to encourage BC Assessment Authority (BCA) to take corrective actions as deemed appropriate in the pursuit of fairness and consistency for future releases and hopefully by 2012.
The association submitted analytical information on neighbourhoods, specific cases and lakefront properties to our MLA Ben Stewart who arranged with the Kelowna office of BCA to analyze the findings. He then coordinated two review meetings hosted by the Kelowna office of BCA in June and October, 2011. Further, Mr. Stewart invited West Kelowna’s chief financial officer to be included at these meetings as property taxes are based on assessed values.
At the June meeting BCA officials presented a comprehensive report. They demonstrated that the results in question were within the mass appraisal statistical measures of quality they use, a standard more demanding than accepted international requirements. This position recognizes the operating system in use, resources and a fluctuating market. BCA identifies three key measures that apply to this industry including:
• Assessment to Sales Ratio (ASR)
• Coefficient of Dispersion (COD)
• Price Related Differential (PRD)
Three conclusions from the BCA report were:
1) BCA focused on the change between 2010 and 2011 roll value shifts;
2) Outliers (our anomalies) identified and value shift rational noted; and
3) Majority of outliers (71 per cent) fall within +/- 2.5 per cent of median.
At the October meeting BCA demonstrated once more that the quality of the mass appraisals met standards. We had calculated that if the lakefront land component is assessed on area (lot size) there was a discrepancy up to a multiplier of more than two. This was clarified. BCA determines lakefront property assessment based on its lake-shore frontage, not area, and on that basis the results were indeed consistent.
We learned that the assessed values of older lakefront buildings (improvements) are significantly reduced not only in West Kelowna but throughout BC. Effectively the middle class ratepayers are subsidizing the multimillionaire lakefront owners. Go figure.
We suggest that the majority of B.C. property buyers buy a “house” and by that standard might expect the same assessment rules to apply to lakefront “houses.” Be fair and consistent.
BCA indicated that we had 29 per cent outliers in our June 2011 submission (almost one-in-three). Our conclusion is that it is incumbent upon each individual property owner to note the assessed value of their property, collect information at the neighbourhood level, and if dissatisfied with the measure of fairness and consistency, appeal his/her assessment. Here are three ways for property owners to gather assessment information:
The West Kelowna website now has detailed information on assessed values (5 years), property lines and satellite photographs of the property. Start from the home page (HYPERLINK “http://districtofwestkelowna.ca/”http://districtofwestkelowna.ca) and click on “Map” (top right hand corner);
BCA will publish assessment values by neighbourhood early in January 2012; and
The West Kelowna Residents’ Association is providing a hands-on workshop on Wednesday evening, Feb. 15 from 7 to 8 p.m. The location is our Westbank Library coordinated through the Friends of the Library.
Overall, the association is satisfied with the responses from MLA Ben Stewart and BCA staff. The intent is to monitor the 2012 assessment for anomalies and keep our membership informed.
S. Carl Zanon,