Michael Musycsyn (left), senior residential manager of the Property Valuation Services Corporation, fields a question from Greenhill resident David Gilbert during a fiery meeting at the Parrsboro legion on March 24.
More than 100 property owners in the Greenhill area could soon see relief on their tax bills, they were told by officials from the Property Valuation Services Corporation (PVSC) here Monday afternoon.
PARRSBORO – The meeting was arranged by Cumberland South MLA Jamie Baillie at the Parrsboro legion between five staff members of the PVSC, a municipally funded not-for-profit organization that assesses 600,000 properties across the province, and a large group of residents from the Greenhill area, who saw their property assessments skyrocket this year.
Ross Adams, vice-president of operations for PVSC, admitted that a large number of these properties are eligible for the Capped Assessment Program (CAP), provincial legislation enacted in 2005 to protect landowners from sharp increases in assessment, and did not have that cap properly applied.
“There are two groups,” explained Adams. “People who have appealed their assessments, when considered will be either confirmed of their assessed value or given an amended value in addition to a revised cap to what the cap should have been.
“The second group are those who didn’t appeal,” he continued. “If you didn’t appeal but your cap is incorrect, you will also receive a new letter and new notice with your cap.”
In all, 183 accounts in the Greenhill area saw a change in their assessment, increasing their taxes far beyond the cap because of “water views.” Marilyn Orr, for example, saw the assessed value of her vacant lot jump from $4,800 to $37,000.
Eligibility for the cap is determined by a number of factors, with the main one being that the owner must be a Nova Scotia resident.
Despite the news that new property assessments will be issued to fit within the CAP regulations, many of the residents were not soothed by what they heard at the meeting. Paul Kelly said he knew the CAP would protect him in the end, but said it will not help his neighbouring cottagers who happen to reside outside the province.
Kelly also believes that the assessments were based more on speculation than actual market trends that are supposed to determine value, and said the Greenhill area was unfairly targeted.
“It’s like having a 20-floor apartment building, and only raising rent on the 10th floor,” he said.
Ed Gilbert was even more critical of the PVSC, calling them “incompetent,” and predicting that the high assessments will make properties in the area difficult to sell.
“They won’t be purchasing very much more, if you continue raising taxes like that,” he said. “What are you trying to do? Break us all?”
Market values will always draw different opinions, according to Baillie, who said the important thing is that the assessments will be redone.
“People are struggling to pay taxes as they are, and what was done was wrong,” he said. “I give the people of Parrsboro credit because they stood up and said it was wrong, and they have won. It doesn’t happen very often that you beat the taxman, but they did it today and I’m very proud of them.”
The Progressive Conservative leader said the experience proves that the PVSC needs “real taxpayers” on its board, not just municipal councillors, and said he will be raising that issue in the legislature.