Bulletin - Special Purpose Business Property Assessment Review Update August 12, 2014

On February 6, 2014, the Ministers of Finance and Municipal Affairs and Housing accepted the recommendations contained in the Special Purpose Business Property Assessment Review (SPBPAR).  The Ministry of Finance, working with municipal partners and stakeholders, has now established a Reference Committee to guide implementation of the recommendations.  The Province is focused on implementing the recommended improvements in consultation and collaboration with municipalities and stakeholders.

The report included specific recommendations related to the assessment of special purpose business properties, as well as 26 overarching recommendations for strengthening the overall property assessment system. 

Overarching Recommendations

The overarching recommendations have been grouped into five categories:

  1. Accountability, roles and responsibilities:
    • Setting up frameworks and mechanisms to ensure that MPAC and the overall assessment system is performing according to agreed-upon standards, and the Province, municipalities and taxpayers can evaluate system performance.  
    • Clarifying and making transparent the roles and responsibilities of all parties within the assessment system.
  2. Advance disclosure and assessment methodology:
    • Increasing transparency, predictability and accuracy in the development and implementation of assessment methodologies and determination of values, including through the advance disclosure of data and changes to methodology.
  3. Data accuracy and integrity:
    • Improving internal controls and approval mechanisms to enhance quality assurance of assessed values, facilitate timely reporting of in-year changes and flag significant changes, which will assist in proactively communicating data and trend analysis to stakeholders.
  4. Appeals:
    • Clarifying, streamlining and improving efficiencies in the appeals process to reduce the length of time it takes for matters to be resolved through the appeals process.
  5. Municipal assessment at risk strategies:
    • Assisting municipalities in identifying, understanding and planning for the potential financial implications of properties with outstanding appeals or Requests for Reconsiderations (RfR).

The Reference Committee includes five sub-groups corresponding to these five categories. 

Implementing the Recommendations

The Reference Committee and its sub-groups are meeting throughout the summer and fall of 2014 to review and recommend implementation approaches.

For example, the advance disclosure and assessment methodology sub-group is exploring procedures for MPAC to share information and the methodology used to determine assessed values with taxpayers and municipalities and examining options for establishing an advance disclosure process. This process would provide municipalities and taxpayers the opportunity to contribute to the assessment process in advance of the 2016 roll return.

Furthermore, an independent performance evaluation of MPAC is underway. The results of this review will help guide future work to implement the SPBPAR recommendations. 

MPAC is engaging municipalities and stakeholders in support of the directions set out in the 2013-2016 Strategic Plan and the recommendations outlined in the SPBPAR report.  Many of these projects have alignment to and will support implementation of the SPBPAR recommendations such as formalizing the accreditation program to ensure appropriate levels of accreditation for MPAC assessors and developing a two-way accountability framework with municipalities that clearly establishes service levels. 

Property-Specific Recommendations

The report also made recommendations regarding the assessment of special purpose business properties, including billboards, landfills, farms and wind turbine towers. The province is working on the implementation of these recommendations in consultation with MPAC, municipalities and stakeholder representatives.

  • Ministry and MPAC staff have reconvened the consultation process to develop a valuation methodology for landfills, with the goal of finalizing the methodology by the end of 2014.
  • The province is providing one-time financial assistance to a small number of northern rural municipalities most adversely affected by assessment decreases resulting from Assessment Review Board appeals on mill properties.
  • Ontario Regulation 69/14 was filed on March 24, 2014 to specify the assessment approach for billboards based on the cost of the structures. Further discussion is being held with MPAC and stakeholders to consider implementation details.

Next Steps

The Ministry of Finance will continue to work with MPAC, the Assessment Review Board (ARB), municipalities, taxpayers and professional organizations to implement the recommended improvements to increase transparency, predictability and accuracy in Ontario’s property assessment system.

If you have any questions or comments about this process, please contact:
Director, Special Purpose Business Property Assessment Review Secretariat, Provincial Local Finance Division, Ministry of Finance at: SPBPAR@ontario.ca.

LEARN MORE

Read the Report on Special Purpose Business Property Assessment Review
Visit the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation 
Link to list of Reference Committee Members

FOR MEDIA INQUIRIES ONLY:
Kelsey Ingram, Minister’s Office, 416-326-1409
Scott Blodgett, Ministry of Finance, 416-325-0324

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