City of Castlegar asked UBCM to look at parcel tax rules

City of Castlegar asked UBCM to look at parcel tax rules

The City of Castlegar made an effort at the UBCM convention for changes to the parcel tax law.

The City of Castlegar made an effort at the recent Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) convention to petition for changes to the parcel tax law.

“When we brought in the parcel tax, there were some unintended consequences — one of which was people being taxed for multiple parcels because their property was spanning two or three parcels,” explained Coun. Florio Vassilakakis.

The law requires residents to pay a parcel tax on every parcel they own, even if they have only one home on those lots. The situation doesn’t occur very often, but in downtown Castlegar — where the original plans are from the late 18o0s and some lot sizes are only 30 feet across — a number of residents were affected when the city brought in a parcel tax a few years ago.

The UBCM motion did not pass. Coun. Vassilakakis, who was at the session where it was brought forward, was disappointed with the outcome. He said that the vote was really close and that a number of delegates did not vote on the motion at all.

“When it was defeated, I wondered if people really understood what we were trying to do,” said Coun. Vassilakakis.

Basically what they are asking for is that a parcel tax would be billed based on the same principals that the BC Assessment Authority uses for assessments. They group adjacent parcels owned by the same person into a folio when making assessments. The city then uses that folio to bill property taxes.

“The parcel tax legislation does not allow you to tax based on that,” explained Coun. Vassilikakis. “It’s not applied equitably or fairly and so that is what we asked the B.C. government to consider.”

Next year Coun. Vassilikakis is planning on taking the resolution a different route. The plan is to first take it to the Association of Kootenay Boundary Local Governments (AKBLG). If the resolution is approved, then AKBLG will take it to UBCM.

“When it goes through the regional association, it seems to come back with more clout because it is now the whole region that is supporting the motion or the resolution versus just one community,” said Coun. Vassilikakis

If the motion were to get approved at UBCM, it would then be referred to the provincial government along with all of the other motions passed that year and the provincial government would then have to amend the current parcel tax law before anything could change.

However, the provincial government is not obligated to move on UBCM resolutions submitted to them.

“We’re there fighting for our downtown property owners that are affected by this because we didn’t come out looking to charge these property owners an extra parcel tax,” said Coun. Vassilikakis. “We’re still working on it.”