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FINANCE - Taxation - Real or immovable property assessment - Appeals - Questions of law

Wednesday, September 09, 2020 @ 6:13 AM  

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Appeal by GFL Environmental from a decision of the Assessment Appeals Committee of the Saskatchewan Municipal Board dismissing its appeal from a decision of the Board of Revision that partially reduced the assessed value of GFL’s commercial property. GFL appealed its 2018 municipal tax assessment of its commercial property to the Board of Revision. The assessed value of the property was determined by the Saskatchewan Assessment Management Agency (SAMA) using the cost approach to valuation. SAMA determined the market adjustment factor (MAF) of the property was 1.72. It determined the assessed value of the land was $597,600, the value of the improvements was $3,106,200, and the overall assessed value of the property was $3,703,800. In response to GFL’s notice of appeal, SAMA acknowledged an impugned land sale identified by GFL was missing from the assessment model that required adjustments to the assessment calculations. It also presented a reanalysis of the MAF that made a series of additional changes, including a time adjustment to the commercial MAF sales, based on evidence known to SAMA when it performed its original assessment calculations. The Board of Revision accepted the revised MAF of 1.17 recommended by SAMA, which reduced the assessed value of the property to $3,325,200. The committee found the calculation of the MAF was within the scope of the appeal and that SAMA’s assessment methodology was correctly applied.

HELD: Appeal allowed. The committee erred in law by failing to recognize the changes SAMA sought to the assessment, in response to GFL’s notice of appeal, went beyond correcting for errors that were identified in that notice of appeal. The board exceeded its jurisdiction when it revised the assessment to account for the changes SAMA proposed. The direction in section 230(4) of the Municipalities Act that the assessor was to file with the board what amounted to a neutral record explaining the basis for the assessment calculation reinforced the conclusion that the board’s role was limited to correcting or changing the aspects of the assessment that were put into issue by the notice of appeal. The committee erred in finding s. 225(2) of the Act supported the making of the SAMA-proposed adjustments to the MAF calculation.

GFL Environmental Inc. v. Edenwold (Rural Municipality), [2020] S.J. No. 285, Saskatchewan Court of Appeal, L.M. Schwann, R. Leurer and J.A. Tholl JJ.A., July 28, 2020. Digest No. TLD-September72020004