Did you know that as of April 1st we now have a new property assessment regime OWNED AND OPERATED BY THE MUNICIPALITIES?
We knew in 2006 that the province was planning this change and warned about it in this post. We weren’t too happy about it given the problems experienced in other jurisdictions and the opportunities it offered for more tax siphoning by municipalities. What it does is put the fox in charge of the hen house.
Assessments should be at arms length from the municipalities because the municipalities, wrongly and dishonestly, have hidden behind rising assessments and reaped tax windfalls by “maintaining the tax rate” and fooling ratepayers by blaming higher taxes on assessment increases -while in fact there should be no connection between increased assessments and increase in taxes. At the same time some towns pressed the assessment office to encourage higher assessments for some properties- certain properties hand picked by town staffers. This improper collusion has now been completely “legitimised” with the new assessment regime, it seems to us. The assessment function has been taken out of the supposedly independent hands of the province and given to the municipalities. We think this a conflict of interest.
If you go to the Service Nova Scotia website you see this message:
As of April 1, 2008, responsibility for property assessments has been transferred to the Property Valuation Services Corporation, a not for profit organization owned and managed by Nova Scotia’s municipalities.
We were told with much fanfare about the new clear bag waste management regime well ahead of April 1st. Big ads in the paper, articles and press reports … but has there been anything in the press about this radical change? No, not a word and yet it is great importance to every property owner and taxpayer. They don’t want us to know, it appears.
The Property Valuation Services Corporation will be “municipally controlled”
Guess who from Wolfville had a big hand in this?
We will be writing more about this as we investigate the implications further.
In the meantime you can read this recent article on the Ontario Assessment Corporation. It is still absolutely mindboggling to us that everyone misses the point that municipalities are still in charge of the tax rate and the lavishness of their budgets. Assessment fairness and unreasonable tax increases should be two separate issues.