MPAC officials answer concerns relating to property assessments

MINDEMOYA—Officials with the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) are encouraging property owners who feel their current property value assessment isn’t correct to bring forward these concerns.

“At the end of the day the biggest question for a property owner is, ‘can I sell this property for this amount that it has been assessed at’?” stated Pete Fortin, municipal relations representative for the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) at a meeting with Central Manitoulin council last week. “If the answer is ‘yes,’ then we have done our job correctly, but if not, lets review the data, look at area sales comparisons and look at making an adjustment. If there is evidence that shows we have missed something we will look at it; our job is to make sure the assessments are as fair as possible.”

“The number one complaint of residents in our municipality is that they see what their property has been assessed at and they wish to sell it for that amount, but they can’t sell it for the appraised assessed value,” said Councillor Derek Stephens. “I had my property appraised last year but the assessed value was double the value the property was appraised at. How does this happen?”

“There are different ranges of appraisals, but as to why it doubled, I can’t say,” said Mr. Fortin. “We would have to sit down and look at it in detail.”

“Property sales range,” Mary Dawson-Cole, manager of valuation and customer relations with MPAC, told the meeting. She explained Central Manitoulin has seen significant growth over the past few years.

However, Ms. Dawson-Cole stated, “if you have your property assessed and are putting it on the market but can’t sell if the amount the assessment has been set at for 2012, let us know. If there is something wrong with your assessment we want to correct it. We want to get the data right. We will work with you to correct any discrepancies or problems.”

The MPAC representatives told the meeting that MPAC is a not-for-profit corporation funded by the 444 municipalities in existence in Ontario. The provincial government sets property tax policy and education tax rates and MPAC assesses and classifies nearly five million properties, the largest administration in North America. A 15 member board of directors governs MPAC. Eight members are municipal members, five are property taxpayer representatives and two represent provincial interests. The North is represented on MPAC by Doug Nadorozny, chief administrative officer (CAO) for the City of Greater Sudbury, who coincidently owns a summer resident in Central Manitoulin.

This fall, MPAC mailed property assessment notices to everyone who owns property in Ontario, 4,750 of which went to property owners in Central Manitoulin. These notices provided the classification and updated assessed value for Ontario property based on a legislative valuation date of January 1, 2012. The previous valuation date was January 1, 2008. Increases are phased in over a four-year cycle, but decreases to assessments take effect immediately.

When assessing a residential property, as Ms. Dawson-Cole explained, there are 200 different variables used, but five major factors account for 85 percent of the value. These determinants include location, the dimensions of the lot, living area, (based on outside dimensions), and age of the building, which is adjusted for major renovations or additions, and quality of construction. Other examples that may affect the value of a property include such features as a garage, the number of bathrooms, fireplaces or proximity to a golf course or green space if one lives in an urban or suburban area. Here on Manitoulin, site features such as type of access and lot services such as hydro and septic and water services can affect the assessed value of one’s property.

“The assessments are not meant to end up providing more revenues for the municipality,” said Mr. Fortin. He said the assessments are separate from municipal taxation.

“Here there is a lot of concern because in Central Manitoulin the property assessments went up an average of 40 percent,” said Mr. Fortin, but pointed to the development and growth in the municipality as the biggest factor.

“And keep in mind this is just a property value assessment, it is not your property tax bill (the latter) which is set by a municipality,” said Mr. Fortin.

“If you have done all your research and want to request a reconsideration on your assessment you can do so,” said Mr. Fortin, noting a request for reconsideration has to be filed by April 1, 2013.

Reeve Gerry Strong said that while municipal growth may be the reason for the overall assessments of the municipality having increased, he questioned whether MPAC looks after investigating buildings constructed without required permits.

“We are looking at permits that are outstanding,” said Ms. Dawson-Cole, noting MPAC does a 12 year reinspection of every municipal property. However, “we need to build great partnerships with our municipalities who may have knowledge of these type of things taking place, with buildings being constructed without permits.”

“I would recommend that if as a municipality you have found someone has constructed a building without a permit, to let us know,” said Mr. Fortin.

Cottage properties were at or near the highest valued properties, the meeting was told.

“I have been approached by several people who own what is designated as a waterfront property, but feel it shouldn’t be because their actual lot is across the road, in a bush area, or they can’t even see water from their property,” said Ms. MacDonald.

“This is termed indirect waterfront, even if there is a shoreline allowance between the property and the water, it is identified as indirect waterfront,” said Mr. Fortin.

A property taxpayer may request MPAC review their assessment through a Request for Reconsideration (RFR) and Assessments Appeals. To request a review of your assessment or classification, complete a RFR form available online at or www.aboutmy, or request a form by calling 1-866-296-6722.

 Tom Sasvari