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Alta. moves to streamline assessment appeals

Owners of farmland in Alberta would have one avenue to appeal their property assessments under a new system proposed by the province this week.

The provincial government on Monday introduced the Municipal Government Amendment Act, which the province said will restructure Alberta’s assessment review boards and clarify their roles.

“Feedback during consultations showed the current two-level system results in duplication, inefficiencies and delays that are unfair to both taxpayers and municipalities,” the province said Monday. “With a one-level appeal system, most complaints should be dealt with in the same year.”

Under the new appeal system, complaints about farmland assessment would be dealt with by a Local Assessment Review Board, made up of “trained local members.”

This level of board would also hear property taxpayers’ complaints about assessments of residential properties with three or fewer dwelling units, as well as complaints about non-assessment matters, such as “local improvement” taxes.

The provincial Municipal Government Board, meanwhile, will continue to hear complaints about equalized assessments and taxes on “linear” property, such as power lines, oil and gas wells and pipelines.

A Composite Assessment Review Board, made up of two trained local members plus a provincially-approved chairperson, would hear complaints about assessments for any other property in a municipality that’s not covered by the other two boards.

The planned amendments are also expected to “clarify boards’ roles and responsibilities, enhance training for board members and administrators, increase access to information for citizens and ensure province-wide consistency, accountability and transparency.”

“This bill will help ensure we have an accessible and efficient assessment appeal system that taxpayers and municipalities can have confidence in,” said Municipal Affairs Minister Ray Danyluk said Monday in a release.

Municipalities, property owners and their associations gave feedback during a review of the assessment complaints and appeals system in 2008, the province said.

The amended appeal system would allow an appeal to the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench on a point of “law or jurisdiction,” the province noted.

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