Information on our Taxes - Smyth - 2009

Information on our Taxes - Smyth - 2009

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Some Information on Our Taxes From SIPOA

By Susie Washington Smyth

At a time when those of us who are property owners on Saturna have just recently received our 2010 B.C. Property Assessment notices and wondering just how much our tax bill will be, it may be timely to highlight some work done recently by the Saturna Island Property Owners Association (SIPOA).

During this fourth year of our operations, SIPOA has conducted a review of assessments and property taxes paid on Saturna in order to have a better understanding of what we pay in property tax and how that compares with what we are receiving in the way of government services.

In 2006 we found that the total dollar assessment for Saturna Island for that year was $172,855,081, which included 619 properties. Residential properties amounted to $168,354,011, or a full 97.4%, of the total property tax collected from the island.

In 2009, the total dollar assessment for Saturna Island is $242,366,681 for 626 properties. Of that amount $236, 814,452 involves residential properties, which is now 97.7% of the total.

It is noteworthy that property assessment totals on Saturna increased by over 40.2% over the past four years. Taxes increased by approximately 24% during the same period.

Taxes collected in 2006: Taxes collected in 2009



















Rec/Non Profit



Major Ind/Lt. Ind.






The following is a breakdown of where our property tax dollars went:

2006 2009




Provincial rural



Saturna Island Fire



Islands Trust






Capital Regional Hospital



Saturna Parks & Rec



BC Assessment



SGI Harbour Facility


Now under CRD

Police Tax








A Few Observations About Where Our Taxes Are Going

Anybody doing a quick analysis of where tax increases have gone can quickly see that the three agencies which received significant increases (beyond the 24% increase) are Islands Trust at 48%, Saturna Island Fire Protection Society (SIFPS) at 69%, and Saturna Parks and Recreation Commission at 70%.

In past years SIPOA has reviewed SIFPS budgets and requests for our additional tax dollars. We found that the one significant reasons for the tax increase are the costs associated with the preparation of new fire hall facilities, was the acquisition of a new fire truck , because the old one could no longer pass inspection, and. Another reason for the increase is that the annual requirements for increased fire prevention training and the associated cost. Both of these items could not be covered without asking for increases.

In 2007 SIPOA received a budgetary breakdown from the Islands Trust of their dispositions for 2006-07 fiscal year. At that time we discovered that travel for Trustees and planning expenses exceeded our contribution. However, we will be contacting the Islands Trust to find out the reasons why there is such a significant tax increase since 2006.

SIPOA is contacting our local Parks and Recreation Commission to ask for their 2006 – 2010 budgets for revenue and dispositions. Also, we will be asking them for the reasons why there was a need to significantly increase our taxes.

A Word about Gulf Islands National Park Reserve Lands on Saturna

All Parks Canada lands (approximately 50% of Saturna’s land base) are classed in the Rec/Non Profit category.

For the first time in 2009, a tax bill of $208,000 (similar to that received by property owners) was sent to the federal government. This was because BC Assessment began assessing all park reserve lands on Saturna in 2008.

However, Public Works (on behalf of the federal government) only paid $34,000 in lieu of taxes (PILT) to the provincial Surveyor of Taxes. This discrepancy is because the related federal and provincial acts are not integrated and the federal government unilaterally and arbitrarily decided on a value for federal lands on Saturna, completely ignoring the provincial system for assessing properties and allocating taxes.

Over the past two years SIPOA has been working with provincial officials and elected representatives to request a review of the PILT payments made for the Gulf Island National Park properties. In 2009 a request for review was submitted by the province regarding the values used by the federal government as the basis for the PILTs on Saturna park lands This hearing is scheduled for spring of 2010.

It is anticipated that in 2010 the province will make another request for review regarding the basis of PILTs for all park lands on all Gulf Islands National Park properties on all the islands. This additional request for review is strongly supported by our CRD Southern Gulf Islands Director and our MLA.

The bottom line: The facts demonstrate that taxes for Saturna’s residential property owners have gone up by 24% in the past four years, business and farming taxes are reduced, and the federal government’s payment in lieu of taxes for 50% of the Gulf Island Park reserve lands on Saturna is not based on realistic land values.

This discrepancy is totally unfair to all taxpayers in the province because it. It reduces revenues for local services such as the CRD, hospitals, schools, roads, fire, CRD and Islands Trust. Most important, as the above figures demonstrate, it is especially onerous for residential property owners on Saturna.