Businesses to be hit hard by school taxes 

Whistler businesses on prime real estate whose the property value has jumped in the last year will be hit hard with the provincial school taxes this year.

"There are quite a number of commercial properties that have increased more than 20 per cent in value," said Jennifer Beresford, revenue manager for the municipality.

That means their school taxes will be going up proportionately and will be significantly higher than their bills last year.

In the past weeks the municipality has contacted those businesses that will be the hardest hit to explain the situation.

They explained that the municipality does not set the school tax rate. It only mails out the tax notices and collects the money.

The rate it set by the provincial government.

This year the government did not change the commercial rates for the school tax, which are set province-wide.

So a commercial property owner in Prince George is paying the same rate per $1,000 of assessed value as a commercial property in Whistler. The difference is properties in Whistler are worth more.

"Our feeling is that the province needs to take a broader look at municipalities whose assessed property values are growing at a much faster pace," said Beresford.

"Because if they don't change the rate and they set one broad rate across the entire province, those municipalities with rapid growth are really being hit hard."

Beresford said those commercial properties are not located in one particular area in Whistler.

Whistler properties on the whole have increased in value this year.

Some residential property owners will also see an increase in school taxes this year.

The government lowered the residential school tax rate by about 4.5 per cent but the average property owner will see an approximately seven per cent increase.

The average residential property value in Whistler increased about 11 per cent this year. For those owners with an 11 per cent value increase there will be zero change in their school taxes. For those owners below the 11 per cent value increase there will be a decrease in their school taxes.

For residential owners whose property value jumped this year, they will see a proportionate increase in their school tax bill.

"I think the real issue will be for the primarily business sector who will be paying considerably more because the provincial government has left the tax rate the same as last year," said Beresford.

Whistler property owners can expect their tax bills in the mail some time this week. Taxes are due on July 2.

The municipality is in ongoing discussions with the provincial government to look at ways to ease the disproportionate amount of money that Whistler residents pay in school taxes to the Howe Sound School District.

Whistler property owners pay roughly three quarters of the school tax bill for the district.

This year the total paid by Whistler property owners in school taxes on both residential and commercial properties is more than $25 million.

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