City to look at property assessment services
According to the City of Moose Jaw’s director of financial services Brian Acker, a report will be coming to city council in early November looking at the city’s property assessment services. The city currently contracts Western Municipal Consulting (WMC) for the Board of Revisions and the Saskatchewan Assessment Management Agency (SAMA) for property assessment services. “We will look at the current assessment services, to see if we have the potential to go to market for assessment services or the potential for in-house services,” Acker said. Commercial property owner Kristy Van Slyck spoke to city council on Monday night, asking the city to not renew contracts when it comes to property assessment services. SAMA is under contract with the city until Dec. 31, 2025, while WMC is contracted until the end of 2023. “This would allow us to regain control and provide proper property assessments for the taxpayers of Moose Jaw and also establish the City of Moose Jaw as an empowered municipality that has control of the companies that choose to work with us,” Van Slyck told city council. Concerns had been raised about SAMA's property assessment model dating back to September of 2022 when commercial property owners noticed a discrepancy in the assessed values of commercial properties in Moose Jaw. At issue were the 14 cap rates within the city that ranged from 3.98 per cent for restaurants up to 3,000 square feet to 8.6 per cent for two-storey general commercial properties. The city has requested that a secondary audit be considered by the quality assurance division of SAMA. The city received notice in February that the request was denied saying "The review found no issues that would require the detailed review that a secondary audit provides." Representatives from SAMA presented to city council in March saying that the cap rates in Moose Jaw for 2023 will go down from 14 to 11. The cap rates went down as SAMA grouped together retail, office, and strip commercial properties into a general retail category. The city received its 2023 assessment values from SAMA on March 9 and the assessment roll was finalized in May. WMC has been contracted out since June of 2022 to replace the internal board of revisions. Van Slyk told city council there are other options including the province’s Centralized Board of Revisions. “The province forms this board so that towns such as ours, if they don’t have an option, they can use the centralized board. It is fully trained and full of individuals who know what the system is and what should be done and how it should be done properly,” she said. WMC received 74 appeals in 2022. Six were resolved by agreements to adjust, eight were withdrawn and 60 were sent to hearings. Of those that went to hearings, five were successful. In 2022, the city paid WMC $44,735.45 plus secretary fees compared to the city paying the internal board of revisions $41,475 plus $18,790 in secretary fees in 2021 when the board heard 117 appeals. “Right below that, it states what we would have paid had we used WMC. For the board, $91,800, the secretary $33,000. You add that up, our board costs $60,000, and their board would cost $125,000,” Van Slyck noted. Changes in legislation now need all boards of revisions to be certified by the province for 2023, in which WMC is certified. WMC also notified the city that it was increasing its member hourly rates for 2023 from $75 in 2022 to $90 this year. In response to Canada's Online News Act and Meta (Facebook and Instagram) removing access to local news from their platforms, Discover Moose Jaw encourages you to get your news directly from your trusted source by bookmarking this page and downloading the Discover Moose Jaw app HERE.