Thunder Bay

MPAC says its processes more transparent ahead of 2016 assessments

The head of the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation says his organization has taken steps to make its processes more transparent, in order to lessen the strain property value reassessments can have on municipalities, especially in northern Ontario.

President says corporation will work with industry, municipalities ahead of October assessments

MPAC president Antoni Wisniowski says his group has taken steps to be more transparent in advance of 2016 property value assessments. MPAC has come under fire from northern Ontario mayors for previous assessments they say cost their communities millions in tax revenue.

The head of the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation says his organization has taken steps to make its processes more transparent, in order to lessen the strain property value reassessments can have on municipalities, especially in northern Ontario.

Antoni Wisniowski, president and CAO of the corporation, whose role is to continually classify and assess the values of all property in Ontario, told CBC News that in the past four years, MPAC has worked extensively with municipalities and industry groups.

For example, he said, the corporation now publishes guides on market evaluation, and information on how it comes up with its numbers.

"The commercial and industrial notices will not be going out until the October timeframe," Wisniowski said. "So between now and then, we'll be working with industry and municipalities to get those values correct, so we bring as much stability and predictability going foward."

Wisniowski noted that any further reassessments that are done after a property owner appeals a valuation are done by the Assessment Review Board, and are independent of MPAC. That avenue to appeal is still available, he said.

The property assessment corporation came under fire from mayors in the region, after they said the last round of assessments saw sharp reductions in the value of industrial properties, costing some communities millions in tax dollars.

Two of MPAC's more vocal critics are now affiliated with the organization — former Dryden mayor Craig Nuttall works for MPAC in a liaison role, while Thunder Bay mayor Keith Hobbs sits on the board of directors.

Pulling in the same direction

Hobbs said the better communication between the assessment corporation and northern Ontario municipalities has done much to smooth relations.

He added that having everyone pulling in the same direction can also reduce the number of appeals filed.

"We've heard it throughout [this week's general meeting of the Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association] that when you're a one industry town, it's really tough when you have that reassessment," he said.

"So we're trying to meet with those businesses to try and figure something out so we don't have to go to the review boards and get hit with those big reassessments."

Hobbs said the better communication between MPAC and communities has led to a better understanding of how the system works, which has put more confidence in the system.

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