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No exemptions

Labrador City Mayor Karen Oldford was hoping her town could get an exemption from this year’s Municipal Assessment, which will see property values in the town increase by an average of 25 per cent, but was told it was not possible.
Labrador City Mayor Karen Oldford was hoping her town could get an exemption from this year’s Municipal Assessment, which will see property values in the town increase by an average of 25 per cent, but was told it was not possible.

The Town of Labrador City has been denied its request for an exemption to this year’s municipal property assessments.

The Town of Labrador City has been denied its request for an exemption to this year’s municipal property assessments.

Residents in the Town of Labrador City can expect a 25% average increase on residential properties.
Mayor Karen Oldford said the town brought the request or an exemption  forward to the province and the Municipal Assessment Agency (MAA), recognizing the assessments are based on the 2014 and would likely mean an increase for most residents.
“If you’re a resident and all the sudden receive this in the mail saying your house is assessed at $450,000 and you know you couldn’t possibly sell it for that today, it’s going to create stress,” said Oldford.
However, Oldford said the act doesn’t allow the Minister of Municipal and Intergovernmental Affairs any variance.
“Unfortunately he doesn’t have any capacity to look at that request,” she said. “Therefore, the assessment proceeded.”
Oldford said as a result of the increase, the town will be adjusting its mil rates based on the needs of the community forecasted for the upcoming year.
“We’ll sit down and look at the assessment and when we do our budget, a 2-3 month process, we’ll look at all expenditures and revenue stream and look at the demands of the community.”

Concerns

Sean Martin, executive director of the MAA — which sets the property values for every municipality across the province — stresses that’s just what it is — averages.

“Obviously, if it’s an average, some properties are above and some properties are below it by its very nature,” Martin told TC Media.

“Every property may very well be different. We don’t simply apply that average.”

Martin explained the MAA is guided by provincial legislation and under the Assessment Act, they are required to do an assessment every three years.

“The base of this assessment at this point is for 2014. The base for the previous assessment would have been 2011,” Martin noted.

“It also requires us to assess property at market value. So what we’re looking at is what people were selling and buying property for in the various communities across the province around January of 2014.

“Once we’ve determined what the market was, we then take that and apply that to all the other properties around the community.”

When looking at sales, Martin says they look at certain aspects.

“We’re looking, for example, for what type of property sold for what amounts? So for example, we may find that two-story homes are selling faster and at a higher price than one-story homes or vice-versa. Or different types of split entry homes may be selling for more or less. A newer home may see the value go up less than an older home; it depends on the neighbourhood in the community. So these are all factors that people take into an account when buying real estate.”

“We’ll encourage them to contact us if they have a concern or if they have a question we can answer for them. At this point, this is between us and the property owners.”

Martin said should anyone have questions at anytime — including when they get their notice — to contact his office. If the information isn’t correct, the agency may decide to come out and re-visit the property and whatever changes are made will be sent to the homeowner to decide what to do.

“For example, if there are no changes (after a re-visit) or you get the changes and you’re not satisfied, you then do have an option to file a request for an appeal, and that information is provided on the assessment notice,” said Martin.

He added anyone looking to appeal would have to forward a cheque for $25 with the appeal form, but that fee is refundable if the appeal is withdrawn or if the property owner is successful in the appeal.

“Then you get a commissioner who’s been appointed to hear those appeals and then we’ll go through that process,” he explained.

Martin said in the majority of cases most residential property issues are resolved through a phone call through discussions with MAA staff.

“If we have something wrong, we’re happy to fix it. And, if there’s some information we don’t have, we’re happy to take that into account as well. Our job is to get the value correct. Whether it goes up or down, it’s not really material to us. For us, it’s is this correct value for your property.”

The Town of Labrador City has been denied its request for an exemption to this year’s municipal property assessments.

Residents in the Town of Labrador City can expect a 25% average increase on residential properties.
Mayor Karen Oldford said the town brought the request or an exemption  forward to the province and the Municipal Assessment Agency (MAA), recognizing the assessments are based on the 2014 and would likely mean an increase for most residents.
“If you’re a resident and all the sudden receive this in the mail saying your house is assessed at $450,000 and you know you couldn’t possibly sell it for that today, it’s going to create stress,” said Oldford.
However, Oldford said the act doesn’t allow the Minister of Municipal and Intergovernmental Affairs any variance.
“Unfortunately he doesn’t have any capacity to look at that request,” she said. “Therefore, the assessment proceeded.”
Oldford said as a result of the increase, the town will be adjusting its mil rates based on the needs of the community forecasted for the upcoming year.
“We’ll sit down and look at the assessment and when we do our budget, a 2-3 month process, we’ll look at all expenditures and revenue stream and look at the demands of the community.”

Concerns

Sean Martin, executive director of the MAA — which sets the property values for every municipality across the province — stresses that’s just what it is — averages.

“Obviously, if it’s an average, some properties are above and some properties are below it by its very nature,” Martin told TC Media.

“Every property may very well be different. We don’t simply apply that average.”

Martin explained the MAA is guided by provincial legislation and under the Assessment Act, they are required to do an assessment every three years.

“The base of this assessment at this point is for 2014. The base for the previous assessment would have been 2011,” Martin noted.

“It also requires us to assess property at market value. So what we’re looking at is what people were selling and buying property for in the various communities across the province around January of 2014.

“Once we’ve determined what the market was, we then take that and apply that to all the other properties around the community.”

When looking at sales, Martin says they look at certain aspects.

“We’re looking, for example, for what type of property sold for what amounts? So for example, we may find that two-story homes are selling faster and at a higher price than one-story homes or vice-versa. Or different types of split entry homes may be selling for more or less. A newer home may see the value go up less than an older home; it depends on the neighbourhood in the community. So these are all factors that people take into an account when buying real estate.”

“We’ll encourage them to contact us if they have a concern or if they have a question we can answer for them. At this point, this is between us and the property owners.”

Martin said should anyone have questions at anytime — including when they get their notice — to contact his office. If the information isn’t correct, the agency may decide to come out and re-visit the property and whatever changes are made will be sent to the homeowner to decide what to do.

“For example, if there are no changes (after a re-visit) or you get the changes and you’re not satisfied, you then do have an option to file a request for an appeal, and that information is provided on the assessment notice,” said Martin.

He added anyone looking to appeal would have to forward a cheque for $25 with the appeal form, but that fee is refundable if the appeal is withdrawn or if the property owner is successful in the appeal.

“Then you get a commissioner who’s been appointed to hear those appeals and then we’ll go through that process,” he explained.

Martin said in the majority of cases most residential property issues are resolved through a phone call through discussions with MAA staff.

“If we have something wrong, we’re happy to fix it. And, if there’s some information we don’t have, we’re happy to take that into account as well. Our job is to get the value correct. Whether it goes up or down, it’s not really material to us. For us, it’s is this correct value for your property.”

Assistance

The Town of Labrador City is one of the few municipalities in the province that offers help for residents who can’t afford to pay taxes with 90% and 50% rebate programs.

Oldford encouraged anyone with trouble paying their bills to call the town in confidence.
“We work with residents, we do it every day. We even take into account hardships. If we have a resident above the threshold and has a cancer diagnosis in the family, lost their job, we can take that into account and bring that forward and motion to council to look at a rebate for taxes.”

She also urges residents to appeal if they feel the assessment is unjust.
“Maybe they have their property listed as having a basement apartment, and there hasn’t been a basement apartment there for 10 years. Their value of their home would be up.

“Unfortunately it really penalizes people who take pride and invests in their properties, as opposed to those who choose to spend money in other ways than upgrading their homes.”

Property owners can get in touch with the MAA by calling toll free 1-877-777-2807; email info@maa.ca; or visit www.maa.ca.

 

ty.dunham@tc.tc

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