Local small commercial property owners say changes that the Saskatchewan Assessment Management Agency (SAMA) presented to city council on Monday night don’t go far enough.
After a 2023 commercial valuation model review by SAMA, the assessment agency reviewed new information from 2022 appeals to make changes to the 2023 commercial property assessments.
Of note, the changes include decreasing the number of cap rates from 14 to 11. The new cap rates will see some small commercial properties’ assessed values decline by over 60 per cent, while larger commercial properties could see increases of nearly 70 per cent.
Kristy Van Slyck with Viridian Property Management questioned if more errors haven’t slipped through the cracks.
“You cannot analyze new sales because that is outside of the time period and if it was a sale that took place during that time period, are you sure that's the only error you made,” she told city council.
Van Slyck also pointed to the fact that the city was denied a request for a secondary audit by SAMA’s Quality Assurance Division, yet they came to city council admitting that mistakes were made.
“Two weeks ago, you stated there aren't any errors, we don't need a secondary audit. No errors. So, what happened here? We had an error in the first time period that was discovered during an appeal that got rid of an entire category,” she said.
She added that SAMA prides itself on stable, cost-effective, accurate, up-to-date, universal, equitable and understandable assessments, but they miss the mark on all of those. She noted that Moose Jaw isn’t the only city having problems with property assessments, specifically pointing to issues in Yorkton.
Bernie Dombowsky, the owner of Charlotte’s Catering, once again presented evidence to city council of the inequality SAMA’s assessment errors have made when it comes to taxation. He showed several examples of small commercial properties that saw large tax hikes due to their property assessment, while large commercial properties received tax breaks.
Coun. Kim Robinson spoke up in support of Dombowsky and Van Slyck. He noted that because the secondary audit was denied, SAMA was saying they followed the methodology that’s laid out in legislation. He said if the methodology was followed correctly and the numbers are still not adding up, then the methodology is broken.