Businesses along Cook Street may end up paying thousands more than originally expected for infrastructure upgrades after an error in calculations was discovered by city staff prepping local improvement charge documents. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Improvement charge could be higher than expected for businesses, government

An error has been discovered in the city’s calculations

Businesses along Cook Street between Fourth Avenue and the escarpment could end up paying thousands of dollars more than originally expected if a local improvement charge (LIC) is eventually approved by the City of Whitehorse.

An error in the original calculations was discovered when city staff was prepping documents about the LIC to be sent to property owners, city engineer Taylor Eshpeter told council at its meeting April 1.

He acknowledged it as a “human error” during a brief interview the next day.

Residential rates were mistakenly entered for non-residential properties that pay a higher rate.

LICs are charges to benefitting property owners when work is done to a street. In this case the city is proposing to rebuild Cook Street, including underground utilities, from Fourth Avenue to the clay cliffs.

A total of six properties would be impacted by the mistake including four commercial properties.

In all but one case for the four business properties the charge increased from $9,837 to $19,675 each. Amortized over 15 years, that would put the annual payments at $2,059.

For one property owner though the increase is significantly more substantial. The frontage of 407 Cook Street (Qwanlin Cinema) had originally been entered with the same frontage as the other commercial properties at 15.24 metres with a total charge of $9,837.

With the correction now in place, the assessed frontage is 60.96 m, bringing the potential total LIC charge up to $78,701 in total or $8,236 annually for 15 years.

The two other properties impacted are owned by Yukon government and would see the corrected amounts changed from $37,441 to $82,323 for Birch Lodge at 6189 Sixth Avenue at Cook Street and from $11,806 to $35,419 at 702 Cook Street, which has a duplex on it.

Given the mistake, council is being asked to approve sending out a notification package that would provide the corrected amounts.

An explanation detailing the error and the corrected amounts for non-residential property owners would be included with the notice, Eshpeter said.

It is now expected that the LIC would bring in $632,409 for the work with the increase to the non-residential rates.

If that’s approved next week, the notices would be sent out April 11 with a deadline of May 21 for any objections to be submitted.

Property owners will get a chance to vote on the LIC after the correction is approved.

A public hearing on the proposed LIC would be scheduled for May 6 with a report coming forward May 27 after the submission deadline. Second and third reading would follow on June 10.

Contact Stephanie Waddell at stephanie.waddell@yukon-news.com

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