A successful appeal by the corporation responsible for air navigation could potentially hit the city in the pocketbook.
Last month, the B.C. Property Assessment Appeal Board - the second level of appeal for property assessments and independent of BC Assessment - ruled in favour of civil air navigation service provider Nav Canada, to reduce assessments at three air traffic control facilities to $20 and one to $10.
The ruling affects the 2011 to 2013 assessments for properties in North Saanich, Castlegar, Penticton and Pitt Meadows, which are privately leased or licensed by Nav Canada.
For example, Victoria International Airport in North Saanich saw its assessment reduced from $1.43 million to $20 on the basis that if the land, which houses the air traffic control tower and related office and parking space, was a standalone property it would have limited market value.
"Although there is no market for this use, there is no other reasonably probable use for the properties," reads the board's Feb. 20 decision. "The properties are unique because their current use is the only reasonably probable use, but this use does not have a market on its own."
Municipalities collect property tax from airports based on their assessed value.
"The recent assessments on ferry terminals and air control towers point to a gap in criteria for evaluating these properties," said Union of B.C. Municipalities president Mary Sjostrom. "The practical effect of these decisions is that they are shifting taxes onto residents and businesses."
According to Prince George financial planning manager Kris Dalio, the Prince George Airport Authority paid taxes of $211,393 for the properties they are on title for in 2012.
"That amount doesn't include any tax exempt properties that would be paid by the federal or provincial government through grant-in-lieus or any taxes that might be paid by leaseholders at the airport," he added.
BC Assessment has filed an appeal of the board's decision to re-evaluate those four air control properties with the B.C. Supreme Court but further Nav Canada appeals for reassessment are underway across the country.
"We are not commenting on Prince George or any further appeal that may be made on any other property in B.C., for now," said Nav Canada spokesman Ron Singer. He acknowledged that four airports were under appeal but reiterated that "there will be no further comment from Nav Canada on future appeals that may be made."
The Prince George Airport Authority would not speculate on how such a reassessment would impact the operation of YXS, if at all.
"Nav Canada has not broached us on this," said Prince George Airport Authority's spokesperson Lindsay Cotter. "This is an issue between Nav Canada and the BC Assessment."