Municipalities across the province will be seeing changes to the industrial assessment model as the Government of Alberta works to centralize the assessment of designated industrial property.
“Right now the industrial assessment is done locally by each individual municipality,” said County of Wetaskiwin CAO Frank Coutney.
However, Coutney says the province is not ready to roll out the new model as a shortage of assessors has put the project behind schedule. In the meantime, municipalities are being asked enter contracts that will have them at the assessments status quo, working as they have been for the last number of years.
Coutney says individualized assessment of industrial property has been done by municipalities for at least the last 10 years or longer.
“The problem is they’re going to have to find all these assessors,” said Coutney, referring to the Government of Alberta.
Linear assessment has been done by the province for a number of years. Coutney says it would be too difficult to ensure consistent assessment methods by a variety of municipalities, as linear assessment infrastructure stretches across the province into the jurisdiction of different municipalities.
However, municipalities have, in the past, voiced concerns over linear assessment rates and the damages lost revenue can cause to municipal budgets.
When asked if the County of Wetaskiwin had similar concerns over the centralization of designated industrial assessment property Coutney said without any model in place yet it may be too soon to tell.
“I think the future will tell a little bit more (of) how this will work; if there will be any swings in value,” said Coutney.
Municipal affairs is moving toward a centralized model to reduce the administrative burden for municipalities and industrial property owners.
“It will also help bring consistency to the way industrial plants are assessed, creating a fairer system for all parties,” states a email sent to the Pipestone Flyer from the Office of the Minister of Municipal Affairs.
“Albertans deserve a fair, predictable and efficient tax structure and that includes industrial property taxes. We’ve had many conversations with stakeholders who have told us there were too many inconsistencies in assessment across the province. This may be due to subjective interpretations of assessment rules and guidelines,” it continued.
The move to centralized assessments are part of the Municipal Government Act review.
Over the next three years, the provincial government will move to centralize assessment of designated industrial properties, including: wells, pipelines, electric power, telecommunications and cable, railways, and major industrial plants. These properties are generally regulated by the Alberta Energy Regulator, Alberta Utilities Commission, or the National Energy Board.
Editors note: The online version of this story includes information from the Office of the Minister of Municipal affairs that was not available by press time and will not be found in the story published in the Oct. 26 edition of the Pipestone Flyer.