Owners of Harmac pulp mill in Nanaimo, British Columbia, receive C$197,000 in overpaid taxes after reassessment of Duke Point property; employee-owned company challenged 2009, 2010 property assessments

NANAIMO, British Columbia , May 12, 2011 () – Harmac owners received $197,000 in overpaid taxes after a reassessment in March of the mill's property at Duke Point.

The employee-owned company challenged a 2009 property assessment, which appraised the land at $95,844,000. The appeal carried over into 2010 when the land was assessed at $92,793,000.

Harmac's late payment fees were adding up, so the company paid its overdue property taxes last June. Nanaimo Forest Products bought the property and mill for $13.2 million in 2008, which president Levi Sampson says is the market value that should be reflected in its assessment. Representatives from B.C. Assessment said the land value of major industrial sites is based on the land and the buildings on it, not just what someone is willing to pay for it.

Both sides agreed to disagree, said Sampson, but the Assessment board marginally reduced the assessed value because of the "cost to remediate portions of the property proven to be contaminated," said Bill Dawson, deputy assessor for Vancouver Island.

"Once (the equation) was explained, they had a better understanding of what they paid relative to assessment," he said.

The assessed value dropped by $2,768,000 in 2009 and 2010. The city refunded its portion, but the money will not have an impact on the 2011 because the city anticipated the change and had set the money aside in a reserve.

Sampson said his company gave up the fight to reduce the assessment further because Nanaimo Forest Products had limited resources.

"They made a modest adjustment. It wasn't everything we were looking for, but at that point, we ran out of the time and the manpower to deal with this," he said.

"We have a business to run, so we had to agree to disagree a bit on that one."

Harmac's 2009 assessment was reduced to about $91,987,000. Its 2010 assessment dropped to about $88,936,000.

The reduction was closer to $3.85 million for each year, but not all of it was taxable, according to B.C. Assessment.

The 2011 assessment is $88,317,000.

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