Municipalities must be aware of new requirements coming forward from the Appeals Management Advisory Committee (AMAC), requiring municipal action before July 1, 2017. AMAC is a new committee set up by the Assessment Review Board (ARB) to manage assessment appeals. The committee includes representatives from the Assessment Review Board, municipalities, Appeal Complainants, as well as the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC).
The changes to the assessment appeal process and the creation of AMAC, require the municipalities to do a number of things by July 1, 2017. These include:
1) Appointing an “Appeal Representative” who will be the person with carriage of all appeal files at the municipality. This will provide a single point of contact for all appeal matters with that municipality.
2) AMAC encourages municipalities to set up an Appeal Representative mailbox such as appealsrep@[your municipal domain.com/.ca]
3) Subsequent to appointing the Appeal Representative and setting up the e-mail address, each municipality must email email@example.com by July 1, 2017 and provide them with the name, email address, phone number, fax number and mailing address for your Appeal Representative. The subject line of the email must be “Municipal Appeals Representative”. It is critically important that this information be provided by July 1, 2017.
4) The Municipality must also identify a Complaints Representative. The Complaints Representative should be at a higher supervisory level than the Appeals Representative as the Complaints Representative will be the recipient of complaints about the appeals, or about the Appeals Representative. Once again, the name, email address, phone number, fax number and mailing address for the Complaints Representative must be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org by July 1, 2017. The subject line of the email must be “Municipal Complaints Representative”.
If an e-mail is not received by the ARB Registrar on or before July 1, 2017, they will assume that the Appeals Representative or Complaints Representative is the Clerk of the municipality.
Other notable changes in the assessment review process are that municipalities are no longer allowed to file waivers when appeals are commenced. They must file a response in one of the following ways:
a. Not participating;
c. Disclosure/monitoring/not disputing value;
d. Full formal statement of response to all issues.
Regardless of the level of participation of the municipality, they are required to provide disclosure and comply with all due dates throughout the appeals process. Thus, at this early stage in the new process, it is prudent for municipalities to participate in the appeals process.
In terms of the municipalities’ obligations in conducting themselves, once an appeal is commenced, the municipality is responsible to:
1) Review the property under appeal and
2) Identify and prioritize the appeals that are currently taking place so that more important appeals can be heard sooner.
The prioritization of appeals by municipalities is requested by AMAC and will be taken into consideration by the Assessment Review Board. However, the Assessment Review Board is still the final authority for scheduling appeals. The prioritization is designed to ensure that the ARB is aware of situations where assessment appeals would have a significant, or potentially detrimental, effect on the municipality if they were not heard in a timely manner.
Also of note: when participating in Mediation or Settlement Conferences, the municipality must send someone with “authority to settle on the party’s behalf” which means that the settlement cannot be subject to further approval by Council. In other words, Council must pre-approve the range of settlement acceptable to them and must send their Appeals Representative into the Mediation or Settlement Conference armed with the full range of settlement options acceptable to the municipality. This is a significant change from the previous process and one that municipalities must be aware of.
While it is early in the new process, AMAC has the potential to significantly alter the Assessment Review Board’s practices and therefore, the Wishart Municipal Group will keep a close eye on developments in this area to ensure that member municipalities are kept informed of new obligations coming forward.
If you have questions about your Municipality’s responsibilities, please call Paul Cassan of Wishart Municipal Group at:
Wishart Municipal Group
J. Paul R. Cassan
390 Bay St, Suite 500
Sault Ste. Marie, ON P6A 1X2
(705) 949-6700 - work
(705) 542-4747 - cell
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