FREDERICTON (GNB) – With a review into property assessments expected too late to make changes with effect next year, the provincial government will freeze property tax assessments in 2018 to help ensure fairness and predictability for property owners and local governments.

“Your government is taking the necessary steps to ensure public confidence is restored in the property tax assessment process,” said Environment and Local Government Minister Serge Rousselle. “Freezing assessments in 2018 will help to ensure fairness and predictability while the government moves to establish an independent agency to take over responsibility for property tax assessments.”

Auditor General Kim MacPherson is conducting a review of the property tax assessment system and is expected to report her findings later this year.

Legislation will be introduced this fall to implement the freeze. Exceptions will be made for new construction, major improvements with a building permit and real estate transactions to ensure local governments will continue to benefit from increases to their tax base and fairness for all property owners. Exceptions will also apply in cases where a property assessment decreases due to market forces.

The provincial government previously announced that it will‎ shift responsibility for property assessments to an independent agency. This is the practice in several other provinces. To ensure that this new agency can be in place before the 2019 taxation year, the provincial government, in consultation with local governments, will begin developing the agency while the auditor general's review is taking place so that it can be ready to act promptly on her recommendations when they are received.

Rousselle will be available to the media at 1 p.m. in the St. Croix Room at the Crowne Plaza Fredericton.