Strathcona BIA 2020 AGM Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Hello members and welcome to the SBIA 2020 AGM FAQ. Over the course of a year, we receive questions and inquiries from members in person, through email, or social media regarding how the BIA works. We’ve collected some questions and responses and posted them below. This is a living document and will be updated periodically (we’ll post newer content towards the top.) Eventually, it will transition to a permanent FAQ page on the new SBIA website. Thank you for your interest in the SBIA!
For details on how to participate in this year’s virtual AGM on September 24th please visit the 2020 AGM Package here.
How many properties are there in Strathcona versus how many businesses?
There are 435 businesses as of July 31, 2020 operating in Strathcona across 422 properties.
Approximately how many employees work in the district of Strathcona?
According to 2016 census data, we know there to be approximately over 6500 different people who work in our district.
What does it mean to be a member of the SBIA?
Technically, there are two types of members of the Strathcona Business Improvement Association:
- You will often hear us refer to you as “our members.” These are property owners, authorized representatives, and business owners and tenants alike, all of whom pay a levy to the city, whether it’s directly through your tax payments or indirectly through your rent. As levy-paying members of the Strathcona BIA, you benefit from the programs and services we provide. To be a levy-paying-member-in-good-standing means you are the property owner of a class-5 or class-6 commercial property or are a tenant in a class-5 or class-6 property with a valid business license within the Strathcona BIA boundaries.
- The Strathcona BIA is a non-profit organization accountable to the British Columbia Societies Act. Members in-good-standing of the society of the Strathcona Business Improvement Association have formally registered and/or renewed their annual registration which entitles them to vote at our AGM. This is where members can help determine who serves on the board and provide considerations to the board when it comes to the annual budget and levy.
How does the Levy work?
All Business Improvement Associations are funded through a special tax levy applied to each property. Each commercial property within the boundary is taxed in proportion to its total taxable value. This means that if a property is worth 1% of the total value of the area then that property pays 1% of the BIA levy. Individual member levies in a given year are based on a combination of three things:
- The total BIA levy
- If your property value has increased or decreased compared to other properties
- The overall total property value of the area.
The Strathcona BIA operates within a 7-year levy and funding cap of $7,449,000 approved by the membership at our 2016 Renewal. This means from 2017 – 2024, the SBIA cannot collectively levy its members more than $7.449 million dollars.
If you were to add up all the property values across the district, how much would it be?
$1.7 Billion Dollars (as of June 30, 2020)
What is the role of the City of Vancouver with a BIA?
The City of Vancouver is involved with the annual funding process, monitoring of BIA budgets, and acting as a liaison between the BIA and City departments. It helps ensure the BIA is operating in compliance with the Vancouver City Charter. BIAs are not City departments or arms of the municipal government.
What are the details behind the Tax Shift that occurred in 2019?
On April 29th, 2019, Vancouver City Council voted in favour of a 2% tax shift from commercial property tax to residential over the next three years. The tax roll shifted one per cent in 2019, 0.5 per cent in 2020 and is scheduled to shift another 0.5% in 2021. Businesses that own or are a tenant in an average commercial property likely experienced an approximate savings of $508 in 2019. Currently, businesses shoulder 42% of the property tax burden while consuming only 23% of City services. Vancouver has not seen a tax shift like this, from commercial to residential, since 2012, and the shift was the result of coordinated and dedicated advocacy by Vancouver BIAs on behalf of their members.
How does the SBIA Board of Directors build its budget?
The SBIA Board of Directors, with support from staff, begins consideration of the following year’s budget in March of each year. This marks the end of one fiscal year and the beginning of the next. Building a budget one year out requires the Board to make multiple considerations. First and foremost, the board considers the needs of members – both property owners and business tenants alike – across the commercial district. It takes into consideration the strategic plan and vision for the district, as well as the cost of running the organization year over year. It confirms whether there is a surplus and any internal requirements to maintain a contingency in the budget. For the past several years, our budgets have passed unanimously among our members who attend the AGM:
- 2017/2018: Unanimous Member Approval at AGM
- 2018/2019: Unanimous Member Approval at AGM
- 2019/2020: Unanimous Member Approval at AGM
The $7.449 million levy cap was also passed by unanimous member approval at the 2016 AGM.
Who is eligible to vote at the AGM?
In order to cast a vote, you must be a member in good standing of the Society of the Strathcona BIA. This membership is achieved by registering for the AGM using the form provided in the annual AGM package each year prior to the meeting. You must also be a property owner of a class “5” or class “6” property, and/or must be tenants of a property owner of a class “5” or class “6” property within the Strathcona Business Improvement Association’s boundaries for six months prior to the date of registration as shown on the current City of Vancouver Tax Assessment Roll or have signed a lease for an unexpired term of no less than six months from the date of the application.
How does the SBIA make decisions regarding vendor contracts and expenses?
The SBIA Board is responsible for establishing and maintaining a Procurement Policy that governs contracts, purchasing, and staff expense decisions. This policy is an active document that outlines thresholds and conditions for which expenses and contracts can be undertaken by staff and identifies where board oversight rests. The Policy governs supply and expense decisions and is reviewed by the board annually.
Our organization depends on consistent and on-going programming. This requires on-going service and benefits from a policy that ensures the board maintains line of sight while providing the tools we need to discern and identify the top benefit to our members. The SBIA Procurement Policy directs the board and staff on how to consider and administer requests for proposals and the required number of quotes/bids from potential vendors while managing any conflicts of interest, real or perceived. To the fullest extent possible and when reasonable, the SBIA makes its best effort to source purchases from within the SBIA membership.
Why does the City's version of the SBIA budget look different than the budget presented to members at the AGM?
Prior to the start of a BIA’s fiscal year, Vancouver City Council approves all 22 BIA budgets. The organization and content of the 22 BIA budgets can vary considerably due to differences in governance and approach, and it was difficult for City Council to compare the various budgets presented in the annual BIA Budgets Council report (this is usually presented early in the calendar year after BIAs have all hosted their AGMs.) To address this, all 22 BIAs use a standard template provided by the City for the annual Council report only, which requires re-categorizing their revenues and expenses for comparison purposes. Each year BIAs populate this template and city staff use it to create a document for the Council report so that Council members can easily review to compare the generalized expenditure categories. The original member-approved AGM presentation budgets are still attached, unaltered, to the Council report for reference as appendices. While each BIA practice is different, the Strathcona BIA takes time to note down our thinking and decisions for allocating and restating our budgets with the City. We share our work with City staff so they better understand how we arrived at the re-categorized budget.
Who is eligible to serve as an SBIA Board Director?
Per our by-laws, in order to serve as an SBIA director, members must be a property owner of a Class 5 or Class 6 property located within the Strathcona Business Improvement Association Area or be a tenant who leases, sub-leases or rents a Class 5 or Class 6 property within the boundaries. If you are a tenant business member, you must hold a valid City of Vancouver business license. A member must also be a member in good standing and have submitted a society membership application at least six months prior to the close of nominations, in order to be eligible to serve as a director.
Are there more property owners on the SBIA Board? Or business tenants?
Per our bylaws, the SBIA Board of Directors maintains a majority of Property Owners on the board.
How many staff currently work at the SBIA?
The SBIA employs three full time staff: One Executive Director and two managers. Our Community Safety team works on contract and reports directly to staff.