| Oct 30, 2008

Oct 30/08 - Letters

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Letters -October 30,2008 Letters: October 30

MPAC Where Is Your Credibility? Edie Cairns

MPAC Where Is Your Credibility?

After a three-year break MPAC has returned after “changes to the ... system ... to provide an additional level of property tax stability...”. We now have access to a modern, detailed website, AboutMyProperty, that will allow you information of up to 24 additional properties of your choice to which you can compare your assessment to determine its accuracy. Wonderful — But wait, who determined the accuracy of those other property assessments? Do I sound suspicious?

MPAC points out the five major factors that have the most impact (85%) on the value of the property: location; lot dimensions; living area; age of structure; and major renovations. It cites the valuation date as January 1, 2008. You can imagine my dismay that, although none of these factors changed in my circumstance, the value of our property has increased 33%. I am sure MPAC will be quick to point out that I moved closer to Kingston in the last three years, of course, but other than that --- THIRTY-THREE PERCENT?

As to location, in the 30 years I have lived in the west end suburbs of Parham, exactly one new house has been built in “my neighbourhood”. It was a manse for the local church. No, people are not exactly busting to move here. That is not a complaint. It is a fact.

Nonetheless, I gamely ventured into the MPAC site to look for helpful data to support or refute the new assessment figures. For the examples to which I could gain access, I found factual errors of such a proportion as to be dumbfounding.

The neighbouring property of just more than one acre that contains a building for which there is NO WATER, NO HYDRO, NO INTERIOR WALLS, is described as recreational/seasonal, “the first tier on water”. I am not sure if “the water” refers to the roadside drainage ditch or the sump hole in the dirt basement floor. At the time of the valuation date (Jan 1/08) this building had been without heat, hydro or inhabitants for close to two years.

Upon what could this assessment have been based? Even a simple drive by would have revealed an unattended building left to fall to ruin. The property has since sold, in a fair and open market, for a little more than one-third of MPAC’s assessment figure.

Supposing one didn’t know the facts in this case and used this data as a measure to validate their assessment? If this was the only glaring error that I had found on my browsing of the site one could be forgiving. It is not, of course.

So, have you looked at the site yet? Have you checked the accuracy of your neighbouring properties? Out there are people using this data in good faith. ... MPAC says it’s so. ... Yes I sound suspicious.

Edie Cairns

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