RMOW loses assessment appeal 

The Resort Municipality of Whistler has lost its appeal of the tax classification of three condo-hotels for the 2000 tax year.

The B.C. Property Assessment Appeal Board did, however, decide to return the majority of the fourth and largest condominium hotel under appeal to a commercial classification.

The appeal board, in its decision handed down Jan. 6, 2001, ruled that 186 condo units in the Blackcomb Springs were to be re-classified commercial, or Class 6. The other 29 units will remain residential as assessed by the B.C Assessment Authority last year.

If all four condo-hotels had remained residential it would have meant approximately a $450,000 "loss" in municipal tax revenue. The ruling that most of the Blackcomb Springs should be taxed as commercial represents a "recovery" of about $170,000 in property tax revenue for the 2000 tax year.

The Alpenglow, Timberline Lodge and Cascade Lodge were kept at Class 1, representing a $280,000 shortfall in municipal tax income. For the owners, the decision means annual tax savings of around $1,500 to $2,000 per unit.

Calvin Smyth, the B.C. Assessment Authority’s assessor for the Whistler area, said the same classifications will now hold for the 2001 tax year.

The municipality had budgeted for a $450,000 loss in revenue this year, in the event that it lost its appeal on all four properties. The RMOW has not, however, budgeted for any further condo-hotels changing from a commercial to a residential tax classification.

Smyth said there is a potential for more properties to try and move into a residential classification based on the recent ruling.

The four condo-hotel properties were downgraded from a commercial to a residential tax classification last year after owners re-organized their management and rental programs to slip through the criteria for a Class 6 classification.

The municipality launched an appeal of the re-classifications in January 2000. The appeal went before the Property Assessment Appeal Board Dec. 12, 2000.

In order to be classified commercial under the current regulations, the condo units must be in a building of more than 20 strata units, where at least 85 per cent of the units are managed by one management company.

The units must also have been offered for rent for periods of less than seven days for more than six months of the year ending Oct. 31.

The board ruled that all four buildings had met the second test. But, the Alpenglow, Cascade Lodge and the Timberline do not meet the first criterion. No one property management company manages 85 per cent of the units in each of those three complexes. They therefore are entitled to a residential designation.

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