Organized to improve the standards of assessment practice; to provide a clearing house for the collection and distribution of useful information relative to assessment practice; and to promote justice and equality in the distribution of the tax burden.

MAA President's Message

February Message

As many of us across this great state are preparing to send out the 2019 Notice of Assessment Change, I thought this would be a good opportunity to highlight the importance of effective communication.

Working on effective communication in our profession is the theme for this year’s conference.

Throughout my career, I have worked very hard to improve my communication skills and I have to admit it is not one of my strengths.  I have witnessed how critical effective communication is in this profession.  Communicating with property owners, taxpayers, business owners, public officials and the general public about the ad valorem property tax system and its nuances and changes are critical to our success as Assessors.  This is the first step in establishing their trust in our abilities and the property tax system.  When they fully understand and see the transparency of the assessment process, they gain confidence that they are being treated fairly and equitably.

Many of us have worked at the counter or on the phone explaining to taxpayers how the property tax system works.  Seldom do citizens learn in school about how their property tax is calculated and it falls upon this profession to explain the general property tax act and its critical role in our local government.  Our communication skills are vital as we spend hours with first-time home buyers, title companies, realtors, appraisers, attorneys and our citizens explaining the assessing process, millage rates, assessed and taxable values and SEV.  This local funding system works because Assessors do a great job communicating with their citizens.  Yet, we can all work to be more effective and become better in how we communicate.  Over the course of this year we will be focusing on the importance of effective communication in the assessing profession.

On a related topic, former Governor Rick Snyder signed into law HB 6049 on December 28, 2018.  This legislation changed some assessing requirements or codified certain processes into law.  Please read Public Act 659 of 2018 and become familiar with all the changes.  Many of the requirements codified into law deal with better constituent communications, such as having published office hours and contact information. This allows property owners to better communicate with the Assessor or representative thereof.  I believe that most local communities are already in compliance with these requirements, but nonetheless, this legislation reiterates that our state government also believes in good communications emanating from the Assessor’s office.  We must continue to work on communicating the property tax system to our customers, the property owner, as a major portion of our profession.

Please note that this law in its final form is different from the bill that was first introduced.  Many of the changes were improvements from the original language and much time was spent educating many legislators about our profession.  I would like to thank Ruth Scott and her team on the Legislative Committee for their efforts in communicating with the legislators about this profession and the assessment process.  Also, thank you to all the Assessors and local officials who took time to speak on behalf of the legislation.  I believe that these communications were effective in changing and improving the legislation.  We must continue this dialogue with the legislators.

I also want to congratulate Donna VanderVries, who was elected to the International Association of Assessing Officers Board of Directors this past year.  She will provide good representation of Michigan issues to this important group and keep Michigan apprised of what’s happening at the national level.

Finally, please mark your calendar for August 11-14, 2019.  These are the dates of the Annual Conference to be held at Crystal Mountain, Thompsonville, Michigan.  The education, networking and great company at the Michigan Assessors Association Conference provides each and every one of us the opportunity for professional development.

All the best,

Paula Jastifer President

News from Around the Country

Bipartisan bills: Michigan lawmakers take fresh aim at 'dark store' taxes


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Michigan lawmakers are taking another run at closing what they call a tax loophole that has allowed big-box retailers to lower their property tax assessments by comparing the value of their facilities to empty, shuttered stores.

Proponents of the so-called “dark stores” legislation, introduced in the early days of the new legislative term, say the bills are in response to a flurry of local property tax appeals between local governments and retailers that resulted in municipalities having to refund tax payments to companies, at the expense of using those tax payments to fund roads or expand public library hours.


‘Dark Store’ pits Walmart against city in property tax fight

Ashland Daily Press

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Ashland’s Walmart store is suing the city to have its property taxes slashed — a move that would drive taxes up for residents should the corporate giant succeed.

The lawsuit is part of a growing trend on the part of “big box” retailers to fight property tax assessments they say unfairly tax their businesses at too high a rate. They say those assessments should be based on what their stores would be worth if they were vacant and dark, not on what they are be worth as active, profitable operations.

Local governments call it the “dark store” movement, and it is happening across the state.


Michigan Assessors Association

Strategic Planning Update

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At its Strategic Planning session held November 18 & 19, 2018, the Michigan Assessors Association Board of Directors developed Mission and Vision statements for the organization. The Mission Statement is intended to be explain MAA's purpose and direction, while the Vision Statement focuses on our goals and aspirations as an organization. Both are designed to be uplifting, inspiring and timeless - even if the organization changes its strategy, the vision will often stay the same. These statements will be incorporated as part of our Board meeting agendas as well as posted on the website to keep them in the forefront.


2019 IAAO President Timothy L. BoncoskeyI.A.A.O. President
Timothy L. Boncoskey, ASA

Phoenix, Arizona

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