Port Medway 'baffled' after cemetery assessment soars 600%
Old Port Medway Cemetery previously valued at $15,000, now $105,000
This year's Nova Scotia property assessment has left people in the South Shore community of Port Medway scratching their heads after the assessed value of their cemetery went up by 600 per cent.
"Baffled, absolutely baffled. What's the word? Gobsmacked," said Dan Sinclair, the secretary of the Port Medway Cemeteries Committee.
The assessed value of the Old Port Medway Cemetery — with an ocean view — has been $15,000 for the last three years. This year the value went up seven times, to $105,000.
"No history of changes in the area. No properties on either side have sold," said Sinclair.
"We don't know what to make of it aside from the fact that perhaps somebody thought, 'Wow, that's a great ocean view. It should cost a lot more.'"
Cemeteries are exempt from taxes and the one in Port Medway — dating to 1783 — is a heritage property that cannot be sold. Sinclair said it adds to the mystery.
"It looks like a great property if you could buy it, which you can't," he said.
Sinclair puts the skyrocketing assessment down to a clerical error or the ocean view. As recently as 2010, the property was valued at $9,400.
The assessment of the Old Port Medway Cemetery was one of 600,000 carried out this year by Property Valuation Services Corporation, a non-profit working for Nova Scotia municipalities.
Philip Schofield, a manager of Property Valuation Services Corporation, declined to discuss specifics of this case.
"We would look at the individual attributes of each property and we'd look at the sales that have occurred within the area," Schofield told CBC News.
"Each year we complete a new reassessment and there can be varying changes."
This year's assessment has shaken Sinclair's confidence in Nova Scotia's assessment system.
"It does make me wonder. If this can happen to a cemetery can it happen to ordinary citizens? Perhaps senior citizens who don't know how to go through the appeal process?" he said.
"You're not given a great deal of time to appeal it. It does shake your confidence in the system."
The assessment notices for 2014 went out last month. Property owners have 31 days to appeal. Each year about 10,000 valuations are appealed.
Since no taxes are owed, the Port Medway Cemeteries Committee does not plan to appeal.