News Release Archive

The Department of Housing and Municipal Affairs received 27,059
property assessment appeals as of the appeal deadline, Tuesday,
Feb. 4, 1997. This represents about five percent of the 500,000
property assessments in the province.

"The number of appeals is down about nine per cent over the last
re-assessment period we had in 1993," said John MacKay, executive
director of assessment services for the Department of Housing and
Municipal Affairs. "The number of commercial assessment appeals
is down by 38 per cent provincewide, and 46 per cent in the
Halifax Regional Municipality."

This appeal process completes the first cycle in the transition
to yearly property re-assessments. The department is moving to
yearly re-assessments versus those done every three years in
response to requests from commercial and residential ratepayers,
municipalities and appraisal firms.

"Annual re-assessments will reflect more current trends and
account for changing economic conditions resulting in more
accurate property values," said Mr. MacKay.

"To ensure a trouble-free transition period, the department, for
the first time, issued a proposed assessment notice in July
1996," explains MacKay, "We then encouraged property owners to
call us to discuss their proposed assessment."

This consultation period gave assessment staff the opportunity to
discuss property assessment values and assessments in general,
including how the Department of Housing and Municipal Affairs
determines assessed value. Municipalities then decide how much to
collect in property taxes based on the services offered within
each municipality.

"We certainly improved the way we provide service to the public,"
said Mr. MacKay. "We cleared up a lot of property owner's
concerns last July when we sent out the proposed assessment
notices and encouraged them to call us." As a result of this
consultative process, the department made 13,000 changes, or two
per cent of the total number of property assessments.

These changes were reflected in the formal 1997 assessment
notices mailed to property owners on Jan. 14, 1997. Property
owners then had 21 days to make a formal appeal if they disagreed
with the value on their notice.

"Beginning with the distribution of the proposed assessment
notice last summer, we started doing a better job explaining what
assessment is all about. We spoke to groups like homeowners
associations and municipal councils and we communicated through
the media," said Mr. MacKay.

The department also set up an assessment information call centre
to manage calls from property owners more efficiently. The
assessment information call centre allowed more property owners
to get answers to their assessment questions than ever before.
Over 15,571 calls were managed at the call centre. Some callers
had more than one question, so, in total, 28,925 inquiries were
processed. About 60 per cent of the calls were managed by
assessment information call centre staff, and the remaining 40
per cent were referred to an assessor.

"This was the first time we initiated a proposed notice,
consultation period and other customer service improvements,"
said Mr. MacKay. "While we acknowledge we encountered some
challenges along the way, we are committed to improvements and to
maintaining our customer service orientation."

The Department of Housing and Municipal Affairs encourages
property owners who have questions about their assessment, the
appeal process, or the new, yearly re-assessments to call their
regional assessment office. The number for the regional
assessment offices can be found on the upper right hand corner of
assessment notices, or in the blue pages of local telephone


Contact: Michelle Whelan  902-424-6336

         John MacKay      902-424-5671

trp                    Feb. 24, 1997 - 1 p.m.