PROPERTY ASSESSMENT APPEAL BOARD
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2009 Annual Report

 

 

Table of Contents

 

Board Profile

 

Report on Performance

·         Key Challenges and Targets

·         Results

 

Analysis of Outstanding Appeals

·         Volume of New Appeals

·         Year-end Position

 

Appeals to the Courts

 

Responses to Challenges in 2009

 

Other Activities

·         Consultation with the Assessment Community

·         Redesigned Website

·         Board Member Training and Continuing Education

 

Board Finances

 

Looking Forward

·         Challenges for 2010

·         Targets for 2010

 

Appendices

1.    Glossary of Terms

2.    2009 Property Assessment Appeal Completion Results Compared to 2008

3.    Property Assessment Appeal Completion Results by Appeal Year

4.    Summary of Outstanding Property Assessment Appeals

5.    Board Activities in 2009 Compared to Prior Years

6.    Breakdown of Expenditures

 

 

 

Board Profile

 

The Property Assessment Appeal Board is a quasi-judicial administrative tribunal established under the Assessment Act.  The Board’s mandate is to resolve appeals from decisions of the Property Assessment Review Panels.

 

The Assessment Act provides for the preparation of an annual assessment roll on land and improvements, the delivery of a notice of assessment to the owners or occupiers of taxable property, and a process to appeal first to the Property Assessment Review Panels, and then to the Board.

 

The Board has an inquisitorial function and the discretion to examine the whole property assessment to ensure that it is accurate and consistent with the assessments of other similar properties in the municipality or rural area.   An effective appeal system is critical to maintain confidence in the accuracy and integrity of the roll.

 

The Board’s objectives are:

 

  • To resolve appeals justly and consistently, in accordance with the principles of natural justice and procedural fairness.

 

  • To complete appeals as quickly and efficiently as possible, within budget and at minimum cost to participants and the Board.

Appeals are filed to the Board by April 30 in each year following the completion of the assessment roll. 

 

The Board is independent from the Property Assessment Review Panels and BC Assessment, and is accountable to the Minister of Community and Rural Development.  The Board has a full-time Chair, two full-time Vice Chairs, ­­­­16 part-time members, a Registrar and five support staff.  Click here for: Board member backgrounds.

 

An explanation of how the Board does its job is detailed the Appeal Guide.  A glossary of terms used in this report is in Appendix 1.

 

 

Board Members

 

Top row (left to right):  Patricia Begg, Bruce Maitland, Shiela Toth, Jack Hall, Bob Kasting, Rod MacDonald, Kenneth Thornicroft, Brian McConnell, John Bridal

 

Bottom row (left to right): Chris Hope, Audrey Suttorp, Rob Fraser, Cheryl Vickers, Simmi Sandhu, Sheldon Seigel, Rosemary Barnes, Don Risk

 

Missing from this picture: Paula Barnsley and Mark Goodall

 

 

Report on Performance

 

Key Challenges and Targets

 

At the end of 2008 the Board identified the following challenges and performance targets for 2009:

 

1.    To resolve the newly filed 2009 appeals in a timely manner. 

2.    To complete the older active appeals.

 

3.    To register and acknowledge the 2009 appeals by May 31, 2009.

4.    To issue at least 90% of written decisions within 90 days from the hearing.

5.    To complete or schedule for hearing by March 31, 2009, 75 to 85% of the active 2008 commercial and industrial appeals. 

6.    To complete or hear by December 31, 2009, 90 to 100% of the 2009 residential, farm and recreation property appeals.

Results  

 

The results in relation to the above challenges and targets are summarized as follows: 

 

Challenge or Target

Result by Dec. 31, 2009

1.    2009 appeals

reduced by 82%

2.    older appeals (2008 and earlier)

reduced by 75%

3.    registration of 2009 appeals

completed on May 22, 2009

4.    timeliness of written decisions

93% completed within 90 days

5.    2008 commercial & industrial property appeals

89% completed or scheduled for hearing by Mar. 31, 2009

6.    2009 residential, farm & recreational property appeals

97% completed or heard by Dec. 31, 2009

 

The Board has benefited from excellent cooperation over the last few years between the main parties to appeals, namely, BC Assessment, property tax agents and legal counsel.  This level of cooperation has made it possible for the Board to resolve a high number of appeals and exceed its performance targets.

 

The following table illustrates the Board’s activities compared to the two previous years:

 

Activity

2009

2008

2007

New appeals received in year1

1,412

1,707

1,883

Carry over from earlier years

781

619

1,359

Total appeal workload

2,193

2,326

3,242

Appeals completed during the year

1,749

1,565

2,603

# and % of appeals resolved without a hearing

1,580 (90%)

1,376 (88%)

2,370 (91%)

 

Notes:

1.     The activity in 2007 included parking site appeals.  The parking site tax was repealed for 2008 and later years.

 

 

The Board exceeded its targets for completing appeals, with a high portion (90%) completed using alternative dispute resolution techniques.  When appeals settle they are either withdrawn (i.e. there is no change to the assessment) or the parties reach an agreement to change the assessment.  If an appeal is not settled, the Board will make a decision following an oral hearing or written submissions from the parties.  Appendix 3 provides statistics on how the Board completed appeals in 2009.

 

Approximately 48% of the Board’s decisions (whether by agreement or adjudication) resulted in a change to the assessment.

 

As illustrated in Figure 1, the average time to complete a written decision following a hearing was well within the Board’s service objectives of 60 days for residential appeals and 90 days for commercial and industrial appeals.  This statistic varies from year to year depending on the availability of Board members and the complexity of appeals.

 

 

Analysis of Outstanding Appeals

 

Volume of New Appeals

 

In 2009, the Board received 1,412 property assessment appeals, down 296 appeals over the previous year.  Residential appeals decreased significantly (down by one-third), likely due to Bill 45 which provided owners with the lower of the actual value in 2007 or 2008.  Commercial and industrial appeals decreased by only 11%.

 

 

The majority of appeals in 2009 were for “Business and Other” classed properties, followed by Residential classed properties.

 

 

 

 

Year-end Position

 

As of December 31, 2009, there were 444 outstanding appeals.  

 

34% of the outstanding appeals were under active case management which involves working with the parties to identify the specific areas of disagreement and resolving as many of the issues as possible through mutual agreement.  When it becomes evident that further discussion will not result in resolution, a written submission or in-person hearing is scheduled.  5% were scheduled for a written submission or in-person hearing.

 

When appeals have very similar issues to others that are being heard by the Board or are before the Court on appeal, the Board will hold these appeals pending the resolution of the related issues.  51% of the appeals were in this category, known as “contingent”. 

 

The proportion of contingent appeals increases with older appeals.  At year-end, 31% of the outstanding 2009 property assessment appeals were contingent, whereas 76% of the outstanding 2008 and older appeals were in this category.  The majority of the older appeals are pending resolution of a single issue: whether taxing jurisdiction rests with a First Nation or a municipal or provincial authority.  Once the issue of taxing jurisdiction is determined, either by the courts or by negotiation, these appeals will almost immediately be resolved.  This issue is not one over which the Board has jurisdiction.

 

As might be expected, given the population and business distribution throughout the Province, the majority of outstanding appeals (59%) are in Greater Vancouver. 

                            

Figure 6 illustrates the portion of appeals completed by appeal year.

 

There are significantly fewer appeals outstanding as of December 31, 2009 compared to the same time last year.  With fewer new appeals, the Board was able to complete higher proportions of the 2009 and older appeals.  The total number of completions increased by 12% in 2009 over the previous year.

 

Figure 7 illustrates outstanding appeals as a percentage of the total originally filed.  For a more accurate picture of the unresolved appeals at year-end, the portion outstanding is adjusted for:

1.    Appeals that are contingent; and

2.    Appeals that are effectively complete (i.e. have been heard or resolved but the Board’s final orders have not been published).

After these adjustments, the effective portions of outstanding 2007, 2008 and 2009 appeals as of December 31, 2009 were 0.3%, 0.9% and 9.6%, respectively.

 

 

More detailed statistics are provided in Appendices 2 to 5.

 

 

Appeals to the Courts

 

A person affected by a decision of the Board may appeal to the B.C. Supreme Court on a question of law using a process called a stated case.  The request to state a case must be made within 21 days of receiving the Board’s decision.  The decision of the Supreme Court may be appealed to the B.C. Court of Appeal with leave.

 

At the beginning of 2009, ­­nine stated cases from previous years were outstanding before the B.C. Supreme Court.  During the year, 10 new stated cases were filed.  The Court confirmed the Board’s decision in seven appeals and referred one back to the Board.  At year-end, 11 stated cases were still before the B.C. Supreme Court. 

 

At the beginning of 2009, one case was before the Court of Appeal.  During the year, the Court granted leave to appeal for two new cases.  These cases were still outstanding at year-end.

 

There were no applications in 2009 for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada. 

 
 
Responses to Challenges in 2009

 

The Board undertook the following strategies to resolve appeals:

 

1.            Teleconferences for all residential appeals to assist the property owners and BC Assessment with reassessing the merits of their respective positions to encourage settlement.

 

2.         Adjudication by written submission hearing for residential appeals that did not settle (unless circumstances required an oral hearing). This method of adjudication is less costly than in-person hearings, as participants do not have to travel to a hearing or take time off work to attend.  It also allows appeals to be completed sooner.

 

3.         In-person meetings with tax agents and BC Assessment to deal with groups of commercial and industrial appeals.  This approach is more efficient and effective than the traditional appeal management practice of dealing with appeals on an individual basis. 

 

4.         Exchange of Statements of Issues, Evidence, and Analysis for more complex commercial and industrial appeals.  This tool accelerates the disclosure and examination of the detailed appeal issues and can assist in the earlier resolution of appeals.

5.         Require early disclosure by the parties of assessment and property information eliminating associated delays and allowing the Board to focus resources on substantive rather than procedural disputes.

6.         Settlement Conferences to narrow the issues and settle appeals without the need for hearings.

 

Other Activities

 

Consultation with the Assessment Community

 

On March 30, 2009, the Board held a forum with legal counsel, tax agents and members of BC Assessment to obtain feedback on the appeal management strategy for 2009 commercial and industrial appeals.  As a result, no significant changes were introduced from the approaches adopted over the last several years.  The Board reinforced expectations for early identification of issues, disclosure of appeal and property information, and settlement discussions.

 

 

Redesigned Website
 
The Board launched a redesigned website and a new appeal guide targeted to provide more user friendly and detailed guidance to the public, especially to clients who are not familiar with how to prepare and present their case.  The website navigation was improved to make it easier for users to locate resource materials.
 

 

Board Member Training and Continuing Education

 

The Board held its annual meeting in March 2009 to upgrade members’ adjudicative and decision writing skills. 

 

Cabinet appointed two new part-time members in November 2009.  They will be provided with orientation and training in early 2010 along with two other new members appointed effective January 31, 2010.  Several Board members also participated in other education programs offered by the British Columbia Council of Administrative Tribunals.

 

 

Board Finances

 

The Board’s budget for April 1, 2009 to March 31, 2010 is $1.5 million, fully funded from the property tax levy and appeal fees.  

 

The budget and estimated expenditures for 2009/2010 compared with the past five fiscal years are as follows:

 

Figure 8 – Budget versus Actual Expenditures by Fiscal Year ($000’s)

 

Fiscal Year

Budget1

Actual

Under/(Over)

%

2009/102

$1,486

$1,389

$97

7%

2008/09

$1,578

$1,504

$74

5%

2007/08

$1,448

$1,394

$54

4%

2006/07

$1,474

$1,410

$64

4%

2005/06

$1,360

$1,315

$45

3%

2004/05

$1,346

$1,354

($8)

(1%)

 

Notes:

1.     The above budget figures are inclusive of revenue from appeal fees.

2.     Expenditures for fiscal year 2009/10 are forecasted based on actual expenditures to Dec. 31, 2009.

 

The Board forecasts it will be approximately $97,000 (or 7%) under budget for fiscal 2009/10.  The Board collected $68,796 in appeal fees and forecasts billing the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources $60,000 for services to the Mediation and Arbitration Board.  These revenues reduce the overall funding requirement from the property tax levy.

 

A further breakdown of expenditures is provided in Appendix 6.  Board Member fees and expenses decreased in 2009/10 due to a lower volume of appeals. 

 

 
Looking Forward
 
Challenges for 2010

 

The Board is entering a new appeal year in a favourable position with a low number of outstanding 2009 and earlier appeals.  The majority of Board resources can be concentrated on resolving the newly filed 2010 appeals.

 

In 2010, the Province is returning to the normal assessment system valuing properties as of a single valuation date (July 1, 2009).  It is yet to be seen whether this “return to normal” will impact appeal volumes in 2010.  As in previous years, the Board will not know its appeal workload until after the April 30, 2010 appeal deadline.

 

The Board will, therefore, face traditional challenges in 2010:

 

·         Complete the older appeals that are currently active;

·         Resolve appeals from the contingent category once related Court cases are completed;

·         Complete the newly filed 2010 appeals, resolving as many as possible using alternative dispute resolution techniques.

 

 

Targets for 2010

 

The Board has set the following targets for 2010 based on its mission, objectives and past performance:

 

1.        To complete registration and acknowledgement of the 2010 appeals by May 31, 2010.

2.        To issue at least 90% of written decisions within 90 days from the hearing.

3.        To complete or schedule for hearing by March 31, 2010, over 90% of the active 2009 commercial and industrial appeals. 

4.        To complete or hear by December 31, 2010, 90 to 100% of the 2010 residential, farm and recreation property appeals.

5.        To complete or schedule for hearing by March 31, 2011, 75 to 85% of the active 2010 commercial and industrial appeals. 

The completion targets for 2010 will be reviewed once the volume of appeals is known - following the April 30th appeal deadline.  The Chair of the Board will discuss any proposed revisions with the Minister of Community and Rural Development.  Despite any performance target, the Board must ensure that appeals are resolved in accordance with the principles of natural justice.  Whenever there is a conflict between a performance target and these principles, natural justice and due process must prevail.

 

 

Appendix 1

 

Glossary of Terms

 

Appeal Management Conference (AMC)
The main purpose of an AMC is to clarify the issues and set steps to resolve the appeal. Most AMCs are conducted by telephone. The parties discuss the issues and the Board can make a variety of orders, such as for the disclosure of documents.  If resolution does not appear likely, the appeal is usually scheduled for written submission or an in-person hearing.  Some complex appeals may have several AMCs before they are heard.

 

Contingent

Contingent appeals are held pending action on other appeals before the courts or the Board.  Usually this occurs when the appeal issues are very similar and it is more appropriate to hold the appeal until the court or Board makes a decision on the other appeal.

 

Decision in Progress

This term is used in the statistical appendices.  It includes appeals that have had a hearing and the Board is in the process of preparing a written decision.  It also includes appeals in which the Board is preparing an order on a dismissal, withdrawal or recommendation to change the assessment.

 

Dismissal Order
The Board may issue an order dismissing an appeal due to two circumstances:

1.    The Board does not have jurisdiction to deal with an appeal; or

2.    A party (specifically the Appellant) does not comply with a Board order during the appeal.

When appeals are received, the Registrar will write to the parties with his opinion on whether the Board has jurisdiction based on the criteria in the Assessment Act.  If a party disagrees with the Registrar, he/she can ask the Board to reconsider.

 

Recommendation
When the parties mutually agree to change the assessment, they submit a joint "Recommendation" to the Board.  If the Board is satisfied that the recommended changes conform with its mandate to ensure the accuracy and consistency of assessments, it will issue an order requiring BC Assessment to implement the changes.

 

Roll Number
The roll number is a distinctive number assigned to each entry on the assessment roll.  Generally every property has a roll number and receives an individual assessment.  Where the properties comprise a single entity, more than one property may be assigned one roll number.  In some cases a property can have more than one roll number.

 

Settlement Conference

The purpose of a Settlement Conference is to reach mutual agreement on all or some of the appeal issues.  A Board member facilitates this Conference and discussions are held without prejudice to the position that may be taken if the appeal proceeds to a hearing.  Discussions at Settlement Conferences are confidential and any documents submitted do not become part of the public record.

 

Withdrawal
An Appellant may apply to the Board to discontinue their appeal at any time before a hearing.  If approved, the Board will issue an order permitting the withdrawal and closing the appeal.

 


Appendix 2

 

2009 Property Assessment Appeal Completion Results Compared to 2008

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Period

Appeals at

Appeals at

Appeals Completed

% Completed in

 

Beginning of Period

 December 31

Within Period

Period

 

 

 

 

 

2009

 

 

 

 

New Appeals

1,412

248

1,164

82% 

Prior Year Appeals

781

196

585

75% 

Year 2009 Total

2,193

444

1,749

80% 

 

 

 

 

 

2008

 

 

 

 

New Appeals

1,707

571

1,136

67% 

Prior Year Appeals

619

210

409

66% 

Year 2008 Total

2,326

781

1,545

66% 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Appendix 3

 

Property Assessment Appeals Completion Results by Appeal Year

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Method of Completion

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Appeals at

 

 

 

 

 

Appeals Outstanding

Year filed

Beginning of

Dismissed

Withdrawals

Recom-

Decisions

Total

at

 

Year

 

 

mendations

after a hearing1

Completed

Dec 31/09

2009 2

1,412

43

560

480

81

1,164

248

2008

571

3

159

257

61

480

91

2007

70

0

7

34

9

50

20

2006

35

0

1

14

6

21

14

2005

38

0

2

7

7

16

22

2004

16

0

2

1

5

8

8

Pre-2004

51

0

10

0

0

10

41

TOTAL

2,193

46

741

793

169

1,749

444

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Notes:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1.  Decisions can be made through an in-person hearing or by way of written submissions from the parties.

 

2.  With an appeal deadline of April 30th each year, the time period for completing 2009 appeals is from May 1 to December 31.

 

 

 

 

Appendix 4

 

Summary of Outstanding Property Assessment Appeals

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OUTSTANDING APPEALS

 

APPEAL

TOTAL

2009 APPEALS1

PRIOR YEARS2

 

STATUS

Dec 31/09

Dec 31/09

April 30/09

Inc./(Decr.)

Dec 31/09

Dec 31/08

Inc./(Decr.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Appeal Management in Progress

150

118

1,412

(92%)

32

518

(94%)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scheduled for Hearing

21

18

0

N/A

3

60

(95%)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pending Board or Court Decision

227

78

0

N/A

149

163

(9%)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Decision in Progress

46

34

0

N/A

12

40

(70%)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total Outstanding Appeals

444

248

1,412

(82%)

196

781

(75%)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Notes:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1.  April 30, 2009 was the filing deadline for the 2009 appeals.

 

 

 

 

2.  Includes all outstanding appeals to the Board from the 2008 and earlier rolls.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Appendix 5

 

Board Activities in 2009 Compared to Prior Years

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Results in year:

Board Activity

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Overall Appeal Caseload

 

 

 

 

 

     New Appeals Registered

1,412

1,707

1,883

2,168

1,868

     Prior Year Appeals (beginning of year)

781

619

1,359

1,371

1,193

     Total Appeals

2,193

2,326

3,242

3,539

3,061

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Appeal Management Conferences (AMCs)

 

 

 

 

 

     # of AMCs Conducted

 

625

767

744

731

781

     # of Appeals Involved

 

2,626

2,246

2,975

2,989

2,548

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Settlement Conferences Held

44

23

29

25

43

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hearing Statistics

 

 

 

 

 

      # of In-Person Hearings

19

22

35

44

27

      # of Hearing Days

40

48

76

53.5

62

      # heard by way of Written Submissions

105

134

137

99

111

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Appeal Completion Method

 

 

 

 

 

     By withdrawals/dismissal orders

 

787

730

1,355

1,001

804

     By recommendations

 

793

626

1,015

1,010

671

     By decisions after a hearing

 

169

189

233

171

215

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Appeals

 

 

 

 

 

 

Number Completed

1,749

1,565

2,603

2,182

1,690

Note: These activities also include parking site appeals for 2006, 2007 and 2008.

 


Appendix 6

 

Breakdown of Expenditures ($000's)

 

Fiscal Year1

Salaries & Benefits

Members Fees & Exp.

Travel Expenses

Occupancy Expenses

Systems & Telecommun.

Office & Misc. Exp.

Total Expenses

Less  MAB & GVTA 2

Net Expenses

2009/10

           786

              195

               40

              111

                 222

                 35

          1,389

60

        1,329

2008/09

           836

              256

               39

                92

                 216

                 65

          1,504

93

        1,411

2007/08

           827

              209

               35

                81

                 177

                 65

          1,394

125

        1,269

2006/07

           832

              188

               16

                83

                 231

                 61

          1,410

76

        1,335

2005/06

           788

              172

               25

                83

                 190

                 58

          1,315

0

        1,315

2004/05

           766

              257

               21

                87

                 165

                 58

          1,354

0

        1,354

 

Notes:

 

1.     Expenditures for fiscal year 2009/10 are forecasted based on actual expenditures to
December 31, 2009.

2.     The costs recovered for services to the Mediation and Arbitration Board and the Greater Vancouver Transportation Authority are deducted to arrive at the net expenses for the Property Assessment Appeal Board.