Moose Jaw City Council was presented a letter from the Saskatchewan Assessment Management Agency (SAMA) on Monday night, further clarifying how commercial property assessments are valued.  

The letter is similar to the fact sheet that was recently supplied to Discover Moose Jaw. City manager Jim Puffalt said he believes SAMA wanted to share the information with city council to get both sides of the story. City council heard from small business owners on Jan. 9 who were upset because they were paying more in taxes because their properties were assessed higher compared with larger commercial properties.  

"As council would recall it was very much the business owners and the issue they had and I think SAMA wanted to assure city council that they take assessments very seriously and they try to do a tremendous job for us," Puffalt said.  

Coun. Dawn Luhning felt SAMA may have wanted to present the information because there is a blurred line between the role of the city and SAMA's role.  

At least two councillors were not satisfied with the information provided, saying it is just a high-level explanation of the policies and procedures for SAMA, but doesn't explain the discrepancies between commercial properties.  

"I know that SAMA follows the policies and the procedures, but none of this addresses what has been brought to us by the business community. And I understand that people always get lines blurred and misinformation, but my questions have not been satisfied," said Coun. Heather Eby.  

The letter pointed out that assessments in Saskatchewan are retrospective, so from 2021 to 2024, the properties were valued for a base date of Jan. 1, 2019.  

It was also noted in the letter that, with mass appraisals, SAMA is only concerned with valuing that property itself and not the business. SAMA is also only involved in appraising property, while taxation is the role of the city. 

SAMA said, in carrying out commercial assessments in Moose Jaw, it followed standard appraisal practices using the following steps:  

  1. Start with property information that already exists in SAMA's database from previous inspections.  
  2. Collect rent return information from property owners who rent properties.  
  3. Gather property sales information from Information Services Corporation (ISC) and verify if sales are arms-length sales and determine the property information at the time of the sale.  
  4. Assessments are determined by using this information, along with property attributes, to model or predict property values as of the base date.  
  5. The models are applied to the sold properties.  
  6. The results are tested by comparing the proposed assessments to the selling price of the properties.  
  7. The valuation models are then applied to all commercial properties to determine the assessed values. 

SAMA said in the letter that those steps and valuation models for Moose Jaw were supported by the Saskatchewan Municipal Board in 2021 and the Moose Jaw Board of Revision in 2022.