A private company formally hired to handle property assessment appeal decisions

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At its regular meeting on June 27, council voted unanimously to authorize the mayor and city clerk to sign a service agreement between the City of Moose Jaw and Western Municipal Consulting Ltd. for the 2022 assessment year.

The City Council has officially hired Western Municipal Consulting Ltd. (WMC) to provide review advisory services in the hope that the company will provide more timely and favorable property appeal decisions.

At its regular meeting on June 27, council voted unanimously to authorize the mayor and city clerk to sign a service agreement between the City of Moose Jaw and WMC for the 2022 assessment year.

Council’s decision to fire the citizen-led Review Board and replace it with a private company was made in private, unlike The Towns Act and Rules of procedure.

“We hope it (the agreement) works well. I think this (hiring WMC) is trying to address the concern that we have had due to a number of factors…with delays last year in having these hearings and making these decisions said city attorney Andrew Svenson.

Contract details

WMC will be responsible for selecting people to serve on the board and to be the secretary, a board report said. The town hall has set the duration of the contract for the remainder of the 2022 assessment year to allow the council to assess whether WMC can effectively meet the needs of the municipality.

The city’s current Board of Review Secretary has received all assessment appeal applications for 2022, while WMC will be responsible for contacting all appellants and the Saskatchewan Assessment Management Agency (SAMA) to schedule appeal hearings , continues the report.

WMC will determine the best way to conduct the hearings after consulting with all affected parties and will primarily use videoconferencing and electronic filing or sharing of documents where possible.

Fees and charges

The settlement document shows that the City of Moose Jaw will pay WMC:

• A deposit of $250
• An hourly staff rate of $50
• An hourly board member rate of $75 per member
• Mileage 60 cents per kilometer
• Printing fee of 15 cents per page
• Standard Canada Post rates
• Room rental costs as incurred

WMC must submit detailed invoices to the town hall within 45 days of providing the services, while the municipality must pay the invoices within 30 days of receipt.

Independent process

“The Municipality recognizes the importance of an independent appeals process and will not, explicitly or implicitly, attempt to influence the decision of any member of council in any matter before council, except for evidence duly presented. during the appeals process,” the agreement reads. in clause 14.

The agreement adds that if a party exerts improper influence on the appeal board, WMC will not be liable for damages in any follow-up legal proceedings. In the meantime, if an appeal process leads to follow-up legal proceedings, the records and communications of WMC and its staff will not be considered privileged or confidential.

WMC must hear all appeals and issue a decision within 180 days of the date the municipality issues its notice.

Council debate

Com. Jamey Logan was concerned the city would pay WMC mileage when Section 6(d) of the agreement stipulates meetings would be held virtually. He wondered if there would be a mileage cap – the business is located in Meota, northwest of North Battleford – and if all meetings would be online.

Most board members are in the Regina area and are close by, but some travel is required because holding online hearings doesn’t work for everyone, Svenson said. The intention is to regularly use online video technology to communicate so that callers do not wait for their in-person hearing.

“I can’t wait to see how it works. We’ve been talking about it for a long time (and) trying to do things differently,” Coun said. Heather Eby. “I know it’s a one year thing… but I think it will take more than a year to see how great it will be. But I really hope it makes a difference for everyone involved.

The next regular council meeting will be on Monday, July 11.


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