MAA President's 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