Berwick’s tax deal was unfair, says city

The city and Berwick seniors facility have entered into a new tax agreement

The city and Berwick seniors facility have entered into a new tax agreement after it came to light that Berwick was not getting the same treatment as other companies locked into the tax break program.

Berwick has not been getting the full benefit of the city’s downtown tax revitalization agreement which gives multi-residential and commercial developments in some downtown zones, a 100 per cent tax exemption on improvements for five years. Dennis Brodie, the city’s finance operations supervisor, said that’s because Berwick applied for the tax break to start in 2014, when the building was not yet complete.

“At that time it was not considered that, for much of 2014, the building would be under construction and the methodology employed by the BC Assessment Authority would grant the exemption for the construction value in place at Oct. 31, 2013 – when the project was early in the construction phase,” Brodie said.

That means that for 2014 Berwick was awarded a $27,939 tax break. Had the building been complete, the tax exemption would have totalled $134,108 and continued at that amount for the next four years, until 2018. Brodie said the city  agreed that it would only be fair to re-enter into a new tax agreement so that Berwick’s exemption starts in 2015 and continues on until 2019, with the full $134,108 tax break in effect for all five years. Brodie said a supplementary assessment will be issued to allow the city to re-do the tax agreement.

“A supplemental tax notice (will) then be generated by the city at which time Berwick would pay the additional taxes levied on their property for the 2014 year,” Brodie said.

Ron Neufeld, the city’s general manager of operations, confirmed at Tuesday night’s council meeting that the new agreement will bring Berwick in line with other developments.

“We’ve had three different property owners that have taken advantage of the tax exemption program,” Neufeld said. “This will ensure that Berwick gets the same level of treatment that the other three already have.”

CR DanceXtreme & Fitness and Seymour Pacific take advantage of the program which was created by council to encourage development  downtown.The benefit to property owners is that they are exempt from paying that portion of increased value resulting from improvements as determined by BC Assessment.