Halton Hills and North Halton newspapers
OPINION: Ombudsman savages MPAC
Independent & Free Press (Georgetown, ON), 31 Mar 2006, p. 6

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Ontarians owe Ontario Ombudsman André Marin a vote of thanks. Marin, who spent five months investigating the Municipal Property Assessment Corp. (MPAC) couldn't have been more scathing this week in his report on the government body which sets property value assessments. Marin said MPAC has a "superiority complex" which "engages in cloak and dagger behaviour" and "cutthroat manoeuvring around property owners." To put it bluntly, MPAC has been sticking it to Ontario property owners for years. That's not news to property owners and certainly not news to anyone who has fought with MPAC about an assessment. "Never in the 30-year history of this office have so many complaints been received in so short a period about a single public agency," said Marin, adding he had heard from more than 3,700 disgruntled property owners. Key among Marin's 22 recommendations is that MPAC should rely less on its mass appraisal computer system when setting property values and dealing with appeals. Having an assessor visit to focus on characteristics specific to a property would be far more fair. As well, when a property owner appeals an assessment MPAC should prove why the assessed value is correct instead of the current unjust system where the owner must prove why it is wrong. An attitude adjustment at MPAC is also required according to Marin, who likened challenging an MPAC assessment to a "Davis vs. Goliath mismatch". "MPAC treats the taxpayer and property owner as the adversary," said Marin. The Ministry of Finance and MPAC have agreed to implement 18 of the recommendations immediately and study the remaining four. In the wake of the Marin's report, Finance Minister Dwight Duncan announced today's (Friday) deadline for appealing assessments has been extended 90 days and that he takes Marin's recommendations "very seriously". Too bad no one took a "serious" look at how MPAC operated

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Date of Publication:
31 Mar 2006
Personal Name(s):
Marin, Andre ; Duncan, Dwight
Corporate Name(s):
Municipal Property Assessment Corp ; MPAC
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OPINION: Ombudsman savages MPAC