By Jamie Rieger
People and businesses with property in the County of Forty Mile can expect a knock at their door soon, if they haven’t already, from assessors who are re-inspecting properties to help the county in preparing their assessment roll.
“Our goal is to re-inspect all properties at least once every five years and to assist in preparing the county’s assessment roll,” said Chris Snelgrove, an assessor with Benchmark Assessment Consultants Inc., from Lethbridge. “So, every five years or so we have to review all the properties and we need to be within five percent of of market value. We do this en masse in municipalities and we look at every sale and things like renovations. Then, we take the middle value of the sale for market value. This helps the county when they are doing their budget and setting their mill rates.”
Benchmark recently took over the contract for the County of Forty Mile and Snelgrove said the company has a team of four or five assessors in the midst of assessing the properties.
“We are going from south to north and it is going fairly slow because we are assessing all properties except for farmland,” he said.
Everything is being inspected; residences, industrial, then land rates. We have three or four market zones in the county and will be looking at everything less than 20 acres,” Snelgrove added.
Snelgrove said it may take a couple of years before they are finished.
Snelgrove and colleague, Morgan Strate attended a county council meeting last month to discuss with council some of the issues Benchmark has.
“One of our issues is mandatory blueprints and that is something that has never really been done, but it does help us out a lot. For new residences and new commercial enterprises, we would like to have those dimensions. Developers already have those plans as part of their code,” Snelgrove told council.
Coun. Craig Widmer said the county has that information when people request approval for their development permits.
“We have that information, but we don’t asks for blueprints,” said Widmer.
Snelgrove also told council that the county should have in place an appeals fee policy.
“It is done in other places and it helps deter appeals,” said Snelgrove.
Strate noted that an appeal should be a last resort and Benchmark would like to see people who have concerns go to them first.
“A big part of our job is to extablish market value. We get sales, land titles, and we want to make sure we base our assessments on what is being sold. We are not looking at things like equipment,” said Strate.
Snelgrove said if owners are not home when the assessors arrive, they will leave a contact card and people will need to contact Benchmark to make arrangements.