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WHEREAS Bill 21: Modernized Municipal Government Act proposes the creation of a centralized industrial property assessment authority within the Ministry of Municipal Affairs; and
WHEREAS the creation of this centralized industrial property assessment authority will create a lack of government transparency, credibility, and accountability to municipal governments and provincial residents; and
WHEREAS this authority will not provide the required checks and balances required to provide fair and equitable assessment for municipalities;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties lobby the Government of Alberta to leave the responsibility of industrial assessment with municipal governments and to provide local assessors with updated manuals and regulations required to perform the services they currently provide to municipalities for industrial assessment.
History has shown that a centralized industrial property assessment authority is ineffective. In the past centralized assessment was part of the provincial government services to improvement districts. The current issues that are facing local assessors is unclear legislation and regulations and an out-of-date equipment manual. The creation of this centralized authority will have staffing implications for Municipal Affairs who are already unable to fulfill their mandate concerning the provision of adequate training and current guidelines to the assessment community and they will struggle to fulfill their mandate.
RMA has no active resolutions directly related to this issue.
Municipal Affairs: Through the Municipal Government Act Review process, municipal and industry stakeholders indicated that designated industrial property (DIP) assessment should be prepared by a central body. Alberta Municipal Affairs acknowledges that making the assessment of DIP a provincial responsibility is a significant change. Ministry staff will, therefore share as much information as possible about this transition as soon as it becomes available.
The Government of Alberta response does not indicate a willingness to leave the assessment of industrial property as the responsibility of municipal assessors. RMA appreciates the Government of Alberta’s willingness to share as much information as possible with municipalities related to procedural changes associated with centralization, but this does not address the intent of the resolution.
In an effort to support a successful transition to a centralized industrial property system, Alberta Municipal Affairs has implemented an interim hybrid model in which municipalities will be contracted to continue to assess industrial properties on behalf of the provincial assessor. While RMA appreciates this approach, a preferred alternative may be to maintain this contractual arrangement permanently, as it allows municipal assessors to utilize their local knowledge with increased provincial oversight of the assessment process. In early 2019, Alberta Municipal Affairs confirmed that the hybrid model will not remain in use permanently, and that they are in the process of gradually terminating contracts under the hybrid assessment model between 2018 and 2020 as the transiton to a centralized model is completed. This is disappointing as many municipalities have identified the hybrid model as an acceptable compromise between the previous local approach and complete centralization.
This resolution is assigned a status of Intent Not Met, and RMA will continue to advocate on this issue.