For Municipalities

The Assessment Review Commission Hearing Phase

 

The Assessment Review Commission

  • The Assessment Review Commission is a legal entity established under the Assessment Act, 2006 opens new window.
  • It functions to resolve disagreements between property owners, the municipality and the Assessment Agency. regarding the assessment of property for municipal tax purposes.
  • It does so at an Assessment Review Hearing in the municipality convened by a commissioner who is appointed by the municipal council.
  • The Assessment Review Commission is one part of an assessment appeal process to which every property owner and municipality has a right of access.
  • At all times when dealing with the review commission process it is important to remember that the appeal hearing provides a format for parties with differing opinions to express their point of view regarding an assessment and have the matter arbitrated by an independent authority. Every effort should be made to function in a non-confrontational, cooperative manner while maintaining a reasonable degree of control and formality.

As indicated previously, the Assessment Review Commission consists of one person, the commissioner.

^ Top of Page

Documentation Required at a Hearing

  • The following documents have to be dealt with by the commissioner before hearing the first appeal:
  • Assessment Roll: At the beginning of an appeal hearing, the roll must be given to the commissioner and be present at all hearings. If more than one hearing is scheduled, the roll may kept in the council office safe in between hearings.
  • Notice of Appeal: The letter of appeal should be present and entered into the formal record of the proceedings only when that appeal is heard.

^ Top of Page

Scheduling the Hearings

  • The scheduling of review commission hearings is covered under Section 34 of the Assessment Act, 2006 opens new window:
    • "34.(1) A commissioner shall fix the times that he/she shall sit for the determination of the appeals."

^ Top of Page

Notification of Hearing

  • The Assessment Act, 2006 opens new window specifies (Section 31) that the commissioner shall cause to be delivered or mailed to each party to an appeal a notice of the time and place of the hearing at least 10 days before the day fixed for the appeal to be heard.
  • It should be stressed that the 10 day period is a minimum. Nothing in the statute prohibits giving more notice. Every effort should be made to provide as much notice as possible to appellants.
  • It should be remembered that many appellants represent themselves at appeal hearings and in most instances require time to prepare for the hearing and possibly arrange time away from work to attend.

^ Top of Page

Postponements

  • Under normal circumstances, appeals are to be heard and decided upon by March 15th in the year following delivery of the assessment notice.
  • Where a commissioner grants an adjournment or a postponement of an appeal hearing, the commissioner shall at the time of granting the adjournment or postponement, set a date and time for holding the appeal hearing, except with the agreement of all parties.
  • If the commissioner grants an adjournment or postponement of an appeal, a new date for a hearing must be set at the time of the adjournment or postponement, except with the agreement of all parties.

^ Top of Page

Location for the Hearing

While there is no regulation or statute governing the type of facility in which to hold an appeal hearing, it is reasonable to expect that the municipal council will select a suitable site. The following guidelines will help to determine what is a "suitable" site:

  • a wheelchair accessible building
  • a hearing room with sufficient seating and table space for all parties to an appeal.
  • a room where the Hearing can be conducted without interruption.
  • a separate waiting area with enough seating for appellants and witnesses.
  • environmental control - i.e.. heating, windows to open, etc.
  • convenient washroom facilities

^ Top of Page

Duties at an Assessment Appeal Hearing

The commissioner is the presiding official at a hearing and has full control of all aspects of the proceedings. The appellant or agent, the assessors and any witnesses that may be called are there simply to give evidence to support their respective cases

Duties of the Commissioner

  • Sets the date or dates to hear appeals.
  • A commissioner shall cause to be delivered or mailed to each party to an appeal a notice of the time and place of the hearing at least 10 days before the day fixed for the appeal to be heard.
  • Hears the appeal.
  • Insures that all required documentation is present and complete.
  • Allows all parties an equal opportunity to state their case.
  • Where a commissioner has heard and decided an appeal, a commissioner shall cause to have mailed or delivered to the parties a notice of the decision in the appeal not later than 15 days after that decision has been made.
  • Insures that the hearing proceeds smoothly and that order is maintained.
  • Is courteous to the participants.
  • Keeps a record of the formal proceedings of the hearings and of the decisions of the commissioner.
  • A commissioner shall ensure that a record of all proceedings is taken, which may include an electronic record, and shall certify all records taken as true and correct records of the proceedings.
  • During review hearings, the council office should be staffed by another person other than the clerk or should be closed for business.
  • Where a commissioner has heard and decided an appeal, a commissioner shall cause to have mailed or delivered to the parties a notice of the decision in the appeal not later than 15 days after that decision has been made.

Duties of the Assessor

  • Acts as an expert witness.
  • Provides the commissioner with the information that supports the assessed value of the property

Duties of Appellant/Agent

  • To inform the commissioner of the reasons for disputing the assessed value of the property in question.
  • To produce witnesses and/or evidence as is necessary.

^ Top of Page

Procedures at a Hearing

  • The commissioner should not discuss the appeals to be heard with anyone prior to or after the hearing.
  • Any clarification required by the commissioner should be done in the presence of all parties concerned. No "private meetings" or consultations with either party involved in an appeal should take place. All correspondence to a commissioner relating to an appeal should be disclosed to all concerned.
  • The clerk may, at the request of the commissioner, offer any clarification or explanation as is required to facilitate the proceedings. Beyond that, the clerk shall not participate in the hearing (ie. no opinions, comments about the cases, or arguments, etc. should be allowed)
  • The only persons allowed at a hearing are those that are the parties to an appeal or their witnesses.
  • Witnesses should wait outside the hearing room and enter only when called by the commissioner.
  • The commissioner may call any witness to give evidence and/or provide documents relevant to the appeal.

^ Top of Page

Penalties

  • If an individual who has been summoned to appear at the review hearing fails to attend or refuses to give evidence or produce a requested document, they are guilty of an offence.
  • If convicted, the person is liable for a fine of 25 dollars a day for each day that the offence continues. In default of paying the fine the person may be imprisoned for not more than seven days for each day the offence continues

^ Top of Page