$355M added to Burnaby assessment roll

By Janis Warren

Black Press

Anyone who has added on to their house in Burnaby since the last review of the assessment roll could be seeing their taxes go up as a result.

The BC Assessment Authority wrapped up its Desktop Review Project in Burnaby, New Westminster and Coquitlam this year, something that happens every five years.

"The Desktop Review involves use of advanced imagery and software to analyze changes to property improvements and increases in the original footprint of the property over time," said Burnaby's director of finance Denise Jorgenson by email to Black Press.

The program "allows BC Assessment to more accurately assess the value of the single family housing stock in Burnaby so that everyone can be fairly and properly taxed," Jorgenson said.

In Burnaby, the review identified an additional $355 million in assessed value—a 0.5 per cent increase on its total $66-billion assessment roll—that will be factored into the 2014 property taxes, she said.

Based on 2013 tax rates, Jorgenson estimated that Burnaby city hall will receive an additional $795,000 in property tax revenues as a result of the program.

In New Westminster, the program added $111 million in assessed value to its $13.7-billion assessment roll, and in Coquitlam, it will see $228 million added to its $30-billion roll, the latter resulting in an additional $700,000 in tax revenue.

Zina Weston, deputy assessor for BC Assessment's North Fraser region, said the program was launched in 2009 in Nanaimo and is designed to enable appraisers to have the complete picture of a property at the tip of their fingertips rather than go out to the site to assess a property in person.

"We've always had street-front photos, sketches of the footprint and inventory on the home," she said. "What we've been able to do now, in a co-ordinated fashion, is add in orthophotography and oblique photography."

Weston said the Crown corporation has had access to aerial photos in the past; however, with the program, those images are now instantaneously fed to the database along with electronic building plans and permits, administrative boundaries, infrastructure and topography.

She said the program is now a standard operating practice for the Crown corporation, looking at additions and deletions from home improvements.

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