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Alta. caps fees on farm assessment complaints

Alberta farmers looking to file complaints on the municipal assessments of their farmland properties will be charged filing fees no higher than $50, starting in 2009.

Effective Jan. 1, the province will impose an upper limit on the complaint filing fees that municipal governments can charge.

“Ensuring a fair fee is being charged to access the complaint system is the first step of the plan to improve the overall system,” Municipal Affairs Minister Ray Danyluk said in a release Monday.

The $50 maximum filing fee for complaints on farmland property assessments will be the same limit as for single-family residential properties, the province said.

The cap on complaint filing fees for owners of multi-family residential (over three units), non-residential (commercial), and machinery- and equipment-related properties will be set at $650.

The fees allow municipalities to recover the costs of administering assessment review boards and ensure continued access for taxpayers, the province said. But until this cap takes effect, municipalities have had no restrictions on the amounts they may charge to file complaints.

“Taxpayers must be confident that the complaints and appeals system is fair, understandable and efficient,” Danyluk said.

The new fee caps are based on a range of what individual municipalities currently charge to file property assessment complaints, the province said in its release.

The province said it considers the fee cap to be “the first step in streamlining the assessment complaint and appeals system in Alberta.”

The province ran an in-depth review of its assessment complaints and appeals system earlier this year. Municipalities, businesses and residential home owners were asked to provide comments to improve the current system.

“Based on the feedback received, additional reforms and a permanent fee structure are currently under consideration,” the province said Monday.

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