Carlos Resendes of Property Valuation Services Corporation gave officials an overview of this year’s assessment numbers at Port Hawkesbury Town Council’s monthly meeting on February 6.

PORT HAWKESBURY: Property Valuation Services Corporation (PVSC) says assessment values for the town reflect a regional trend of slowing growth.

Carlos Resendes, vice-president of business and innovation services with PVSC, attended the Town of Port Hawkesbury’s February council meeting to deliver an overview of their services and to provide information on this year’s assessment values for the town.

Resendes said this year’s numbers indicate a trend of declining or flattening assessments. Total commercial assessed value dropped from $139,939,100 in 2017 to $138,895,700 in 2018. Total residential assessed value rose from $152,296,800 to $152,325,500, a change of 0.02 per cent.

“This is a pattern that we’ve been seeing across the province for the last two or three years. The market has flattened out from prior years when we’ve had some healthy growth,” said Resendes.

Following the presentation, Port Hawkesbury Mayor Brenda Chisholm-Beaton asked Resendes if Nova Scotia’s Capped Assessment Program could be related to the province-wide trend of flat or declining assessment values. The CAP limits the amount eligible residential property assessments can increase each year and is based on the percentage change in the Nova Scotia Consumer Price Index.

Resendes said there are a variety of factors that may contribute to the trend, including declining demand in certain areas, as well as external factors such as how people are choosing to invest their money. He said he was not sure whether the cap was a major contributor.

“I know that it tends to discourage sales,” said Resendes. “But it tended to do that over the last five or six years too and we had some booms, so it’s tough to predict whether that’s one of the leading causes or not.”

After the meeting, Chisholm-Beaton said she believes people should be aware of how properties are assessed.

“I think that it is important that municipalities take the time to understand how PVSC comes up with the assessment and how the cap does affect their bottom line in each of the municipalities,” she said.

The presentation occurred nearly four months after the PVSC announced the impending closure of its Port Hawkesbury office following the current assessment period. Chisholm Beaton says town officials are disappointed with the decision to close the office, but are discussing possible solutions.

“They did go to great lengths to explain the change. They said that they were trending towards more of a model of modernization for PVSC which would be home office based, and this particular location I guess is partly starting off this process,” she said.

Chisholm-Beaton said that there has been some discussion of the PVSC providing service in the Strait area one day per week with full-time service during the February assessment period each year.

“That is still the offer that’s on the table. It’s still going to require maybe some further discussions,” said Chisholm-Beaton. “Of course the desired result on behalf of the town and Strait area Mayors and Wardens would be to secure PVSC as having a full-time presence in the Strait area and having a public office versus a home office, but our municipalities don’t have a voice in that process, so I guess we’ll continue to negotiate with them.”