Carlos Resendes, vice-president of business and innovation services for Property Valuation Services Corporation, and Dave Penny, residential manager, visited Inverness Municipal Council on February 5.

PORT HOOD: After having announced its office in Port Hawkesbury will close by the end of this month, representatives from Property Valuation Services Corporation (PVSC) visited Inverness Municipal Council last week.

The visit was to offer some insight on the services offered by PVSC, a municipally-funded organization providing assessment services for 50 Nova Scotian municipalities. The group is made up of 135 employees. It provides assessment rolls to municipalities and assessment notices to property owners.

During the question-and-answer period following the presentation, councillors wasted little time in asking about the closure of the PVSC’s Port Hawkesbury office.

“The office in Port Hawkesbury is closing, and that’s going to leave a lot of people having to travel to Sydney or Truro [to visit an office]. This is municipally-funded, and all of a sudden we don’t have representation in the Strait area,” said John Dowling, councillor for the Port Hastings area.

“How did this decision come into effect?”

Carlos Resendes, vice-president of business and innovation services for PVSC said having an office in all regions of the province is just not possible.

“How can we make a modern, service-delivery model that we believe enhances the service we provide to the tax-payer?” he said, going onto explain that while there will no longer be a brick-and-mortar presence in Port Hawkesbury, six assessors will be serving the area from home offices.

“We may have more assessors in the area, but we can’t just drop into their home,” said Warden Betty Ann MacQuarrie. “Having an office is a little different.”

“I think it’s an enhancement in service,” Resendes said. “You had people having to drive to Port Hawkesbury to get an answer. Now, all they have to do is phone an assessor, and that assessor will come to their house.”

He noted that PVSC has a very active Web site that allows a great amount of information to get out to the public. The PVSC call centre, he said, allows people to talk to PVSC representatives and assessors.

“The only thing you’re going to save is the rent in Port Hawkesbury,” said Whycocomagh-area councillor John MacLennan. He added that he has concerns about the geography of Inverness County and where the home offices will be.

“We have to live with what we have, but it would be nice to have that factor into future hires,” Resendes said of having assessors spread out throughout the county.

He said the home office model does add up to a substantial saving for his group.

In terms of Resendes’ presentation before the question and answer period, he said property values in the county are on the rise.

“For this area, you had the residential value go up by 2.54 per cent, the taxable assessment value is up 3.03 per cent, and the commercial [taxable assessed value] see a 2.33 per cent increase,” Resendes said.

“That’s better than the norm across the province.”

Inverness County’s residential profile shows that there has been a rise in sales transactions for 2018 from the 2017 numbers. There were 456 residential sale transactions in 2018 (up from 373 in 2017) and 10 commercial sale transitions (up from three in 2017).