Executive Council Office
Auditor general to complete property assessment review05 June 2017
FREDERICTON (GNB) – The following statement was issued today by Attorney General Serge Rousselle:
As a government, we are taking the necessary steps to ensure public confidence is restored in the property tax assessment process. Since 2011, there have been thousands of errors and we are committed to getting to the bottom of it to ensure the public gets a clear explanation of what happened. It is important for all New Brunswickers to be confident in the quality, accuracy and transparency of the property tax assessment process.
On April 3, the provincial government announced that former justice of the Court of Appeal Joseph Robertson had agreed to undertake a review of New Brunswick's property tax assessment system. Since that time, the following developments have occurred:
- On May 9, the provincial audit committee met with the auditor general, who advised the government she intended to examine property assessment procedures as part of her annual review of the government’s financial statements.
- On May 19, Auditor General Kim MacPherson informed the former justice of her office’s intention to audit revenues derived from property tax assessment.
- On May 23, the former justice met with MacPherson to discuss the matter.
- On May 29, the former justice informed the government he would discontinue his review, citing the potential for overlap between the two reviews.
- On June 4, cabinet issued a request under section 12 of the Auditor General Act for a review of the New Brunswick property tax assessment system. The auditor general has been asked to conduct a review with the same scope and mandate as the review begun under former justice Robertson. That is, the auditor general's review will focus on facts and circumstances related to inaccuracies and possible errors in Service New Brunswick's calculation of real property tax assessment values for the taxation years 2011 through 2017.
When informed of former justice Robertson's decision to discontinue his review, the government did encourage him to continue. However, we respect his decision and thank him for his service. We fully welcome the review of the auditor general, a statutory and independent officer of the legislative assembly.
Former justice Robertson will provide information and transitional notes to the auditor general in order to assist in a smooth transition.
A copy of former justice Robertson’s letter advising the provincial government that he would be discontinuing his review is available online.
Our goal remains ensuring that the public gets a clear explanation of what happened and steps that can be taken to fix this issue going forward. It is clear there is a need to review what went wrong, while ensuring lessons are learned to restore public confidence in the property assessment process.
The provincial government will fully co-operate with the auditor general’s review, ensuring her office has sufficient resources and access to individuals and records deemed necessary to complete this review.
The government remains committed to bringing forward changes to the property tax assessment system in a timely way. To that end, we have requested that the auditor general complete her review no later than Nov. 30 in order to enable system improvements prior to the 2018-19 property taxation cycle. As with former justice Robertson's review, the government will generally not comment while the review is ongoing out of respect for the independent review process.
Our government continues to work towards addressing issues with the property tax assessment system with recent steps, including visually re-inspecting properties and issuing revised bills; extending the request-for-review deadline to Aug. 1; ordering a comprehensive independent review of the property tax assessment system; and committing to create an agency independent of the provincial government to oversee property assessment.05-06-17