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WHEREAS municipalities are required to prepare annual assessments on property;
WHEREAS regulatory requirements for assessor accreditation and assessment preparation continue to increase;
WHEREAS it is becoming increasingly difficult to attract and maintain assessors within rural municipalities;
WHEREAS Alberta Municipal Affairs has reduced or eliminated research, development and support for Alberta Assessment Manuals including important resources such as the Non-Residential Building Cost Manual;
WHEREAS Alberta Municipal Affairs has indicated that a reduction or elimination of funding provided to the Alberta Assessors Association (AAA) for provision of course development and training to its members if forthcoming;
WHEREAS the recruitment and retention of rural oriented assessors and the maintenance and improvement of quality assessments will result in a stable tax base for municipalities which is critical to municipal sustainability;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties and Alberta Municipal Affairs explore the creation of a joint committee with the Alberta Assessors Association for the purpose of pursuing the mutual interest of training, education, and retention of rural assessors including the establishment of an assessor trainee / internship / co-operative program, the development of a machinery and equipment training course, and suitable farmland training for rural assessors.
Prior to 1994 Alberta Municipal Affairs (AMA) performed the assessment function for many of the rural and small urban municipalities at a greatly subsidized cost. Other municipalities hired their own assessment staff with little or no subsidy for staffing costs. AMA also provided much of the formalized training including course development and all Alberta assessment manuals.
After privatization, in 1994, some assessors left the profession completely, some took ‘in-house’ positions and others became contractors responsible for several municipalities. AMA no longer subsidized these assessments and these municipalities began to discover the true cost of assessment preparation.
Regulatory requirements and duties for assessors continue to increase while resources for training and development continue to decrease. AMA regularly reforms assessment methods and standards thus further increasing the workload on the existing personnel including moving assessment to a market value approach from depreciated replacement cost, established annual assessment preparation from the previous 7-year cycle general assessment, required ASSET reporting for assessment audits, and have abandoned assessment manual support.
Requirements for accreditation with the AAA have steadily increased to keep pace with statutory and regulatory changes (MGA), and other industry associations (i.e. IPPAC, AIC, IAAO). These more stringent qualifications also reduce the recruitment of new assessors as they choose other fields requiring fewer qualifications for similar or greater compensation.
A 2004 study by AAA showed that 44% of the accredited assessors were planning on retiring within 5-10 years. There are probably already not enough accredited assessors to fill every statutory position required in the rural and small urban setting.
Assessors are choosing not to pursue assessment positions in rural areas for a variety of reasons including lifestyle, quality of life, and financial compensation. Many rural and small urban municipalities have been unable to recruit and retain assessors for vacant positions at any level in the past few years – a few of these positions still remain open. Most of the people entering the profession are gravitating to urban settings resulting in a further short fall of qualified rural assessors.
Vacant assessor positions tend to default to a contract assessment company which may already be under-staffed for the same reasons. Often contractors provide a training arena, and lose experienced staff to larger urban municipalities or private industry.
The development of qualified assessors through internship or co-operative programs would benefit municipalities by providing a pool of individuals required to replace retiring assessors.
Alberta Municipal Affairs has indicated a reduction or elimination of funding to the Alberta Assessors Association (AAA) for provision of course development and training to its members.
Alberta Municipal Affairs has reduced or eliminated research, development and support for Alberta Assessment Manuals including important resources such as the Non-Residential Building Cost Manual.
The ability for rural municipalities to recruit and retain rural oriented assessors is necessary to maintain and improve the quality of assessment that result in a stable tax base for municipalities which is critical to municipal sustainability.
Assessors in rural Alberta would benefit through training and participation in leadership positions within the Alberta Assessors Association and should be supported by their employers in doing so.
The AAMDC has no active resolutions related to this issue. However the AAMDC’s MGA Review: Final Assessment Recommendations report calls for an assessor internship program.
Municipal Affairs supports the creation of a joint committee with the AAMDC and the Alberta Assessors’ Association to review the training, education, and retention issue for assessors in the province.
The AAMDC created a joint committee with the Alberta Assessors Association (AAA) and Alberta Municipal Affairs to identify opportunities to increase recruitment, retention and training of rural assessors. Work is still on-going; however, the intent of this resolution has been met.