(Grace Kennedy/The Observer)

Harrison ups tax rate multiplier for business, recreation properties

Harrison is reverting back to 2019 rates after changes in 2020 due to COVID-19, assessment values

  • Feb. 3, 2021 12:00 a.m.

Harrison businesses will not be getting a tax break again this year, after Harrison council voted to return to its 2019 tax rate multipliers.

On Monday night (Feb. 1), Harrison council discussed whether or not the village should change its tax rate multiplier for 2021, after giving a break to businesses with a lower tax rate in 2020.

Harrison’s property owners pay taxes based on the kind of property they own. Residential properties are taxed at one rate (in 2020, it was around $5.08 per $1,000 of assessed value) and other kinds of properties are taxed relative to that base rate.

From 2017 to 2019, commercial property owners were paying 3.18 times more than residential properties for every $1,000 of assessed value, while recreational property owners were paying 4.17 times more.

RELATED: Harrison financial officer: village could lose $300K due to COVID-19

In 2020, Harrison council decided to reduce these tax rate multipliers so local businesses that had been impacted by COVID-19 would not have as much of a tax burden. The new tax rate multipliers for 2020 saw businesses paying three times what residential homeowners paid per $1,000, and recreational property owners were paying 3.5 times more.

During Harrison’s Committee of the Whole meeting in January, councillors asked to look at different tax rate options for 2021. The three options presented to council on Monday showed the differences between keeping the tax rate multipliers the same as they were in 2020, reverting back to what it was in 2019 and meeting somewhere in the middle.

If Harrison kept the tax rate multipliers the same as what they were in 2020, the change to their taxes would have been the roughly equivalent to the average assessment increase and decrease: up 3.9 per cent for residential homeowners, down 0.46 per cent for businesses and up 3.41 per cent for recreational property owners.

RELATED: Value of Chilliwack single-family homes jumps six per cent in 2021 assessments

At the 2019 rates, homeowners would see a 1.31 per cent increase to their property taxes, while businesses would see a 2.87 per cent increase. Recreational properties would see a 20.13 per cent increase in their taxes.

(This is just based on the average increase or decrease for those types of properties. A resident’s actual property taxes are based on how their particular property changed in relation to the average increase or decrease.)

According to Coun. Gerry Palmer, a large part of the reason why he supported that change last year was the business properties saw a significant increase in assessed value. Now, that’s no longer an issue. he reason why he supported a change to the tax rate multiplier last year is no longer around.

“It was going to create a significant increase in business taxes at a time when COVID was also making business a difficult environment,” Palmer said. “I understand that COVID still makes business a difficult environment, but this year the assessed values for businesses have not gone up, they’ve actually gone down a bit, and residential has gone up a bit.”

Coun. Samantha Piper still had some concerns about the change, particularly for recreational properties.

“I think I’ve been quite vocal about my worries and sympathies with our local business community. There may have been a lot of surprises this summer with the amount of people that came into town, and that may have been a lifesaver for some of them. But there was a lot of last year that was up in the air,” she said. “I do take pause at seeing the large increase with Option 2 to the recreational side to the community.”

However, that was not enough to sway her vote. Council voted unanimously to return to the 2019 tax rate multiplier of 3.18 to one for business properties, and 4.17 to one for recreational properties.

The tax rate itself has not yet been decided by council. That will come back to council as a Tax Rate Bylaw in around the beginning of April.

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Agassiz-Harrison Observer