The Saskatchewan Assessment Management Agency (SAMA) was established in 1987, pursuant to a review by a Saskatchewan Local Government Finance Commission. The Commission issued a number of reports; one entitled "Property Assessment in Saskatchewan". The report called for multiple changes to the property assessment system in Saskatchewan. Among these recommendations (two listed below), the Commission called for the formation of SAMA and the creation of the Agency’s Board of Directors:
- IV-1 – The Commission recommends that a new assessment act be passed to establish an independent Saskatchewan Assessment Management Agency (S.A.M.A.), which would have the responsibility for conducting the appraisal and assessment of all properties and businesses in the Province.
- IV-2 – The Commission recommends that the Saskatchewan Assessment Management Agency be headed by a Board of Directors, which would have the authority and responsibility for assessment policies and for the general functioning of the assessment system.
Mandate of SAMA and Its Board of Directors
The SAMA Board was charged with a mandate to develop, deliver and promote a cost-effective property assessment system for Saskatchewan that is accurate, up-to-date, universal, equitable and understandable. Since its 1987 inception, the Board’s focus has been to move Saskatchewan’s property assessment to national and international standards.
The 1997 Revaluation marked the beginning of SAMA’s oversight responsibility for updating and maintaining property values, as of a recent base date, throughout the province (values were previously based on 1965 data). The 2009 Revaluation completes SAMA’s task of modernizing Saskatchewan’s assessment valuation policies.
A Historical Look at Assessment in Saskatchewan
All properties in Saskatchewan are valued using an ad valorem (according to value) standard. Values placed on properties are based on market values or regulated rates that reflect the same valuation base date. This means property upgrades will increase a property’s value. This property value increase is not a penalty, but an inherent measure within a fair assessment system. The ad valorem property assessment method has been used successfully for many decades in most North American jurisdictions.
Agricultural properties are assessed using a current regulated system based on productive value. Heavy industrial property, railway, pipeline and resource production equipment use a regulated system based primarily on replacement costs.
For all other properties, Saskatchewan’s assessment system is based on a market value assessment, mass appraisal system, the valuing of properties using standard methods and allowing for statistical testing.
Historically, the property assessment system has been the most equitable for the distribution of municipal taxes. Flat taxes have been tried and have failed in other countries, and are not necessarily fair to low-income citizens.
In most North American jurisdictions, assessment techniques have improved greatly over the years. Computer assisted mass appraisal (CAMA) combines computer technology, statistical methods and regulations to make possible reasonably accurate property assessments.
Role of Local Governments and Stakeholder Groups
Local government associations such as the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM), the Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association (SUMA), the Saskatchewan School Boards Association, and other assessment stakeholder groups across the province, have had a significant influence on the shaping of assessment policy in the past. The agency maintains four advisory committees (urban, cities, rural and commercial), and it holds an annual meeting at which municipalities and assessment stakeholders advise the Board of Directors on current and proposed assessment policy.
SAMA continues to consult with stakeholders on all policy changes. The present system was developed and is refined and maintained in full consultation with the province and local governments.