The 38th New Brunswick provincial election is officially underway.
While many important issues will be raised during the campaign, I’m encouraging you to talk to your candidates about Open Data, specifically open assessment data.
Property tax receives a lot of attention every March; but, it seems to fly under the radar the remainder of the year. It’s a important tax because it’s one of the few taxes YOU have control over – the ability to appeal your assessment is an important (and underutilized) option… if you have data.
Service New Brunswick is not allowed to provide bulk property assessment and last sale information in an open digital format due to antiquated legislation (refer to Section 12 within the current Assessment Act).
Without a complete listing of all assessment and last sale information, New Brunswick property taxpayers are not in a position to accurately determine if their property tax assessment is reasonable. They are also not in a position to make their case using actual data from comparable properties when appealing.
Property taxpayers have a right to a digital copy of this information.
The Assessment Act needs to be updated to reflect the digital and technological realities of today. This petition seeks changes to allow the following actions to occur legally:
1) Allow releasing New Brunswick property assessment information in open format digital file(s). This includes allowing the release of information for every tax year (current and historical).
2) Allow releasing New Brunswick property sales information in open format digital file(s). This includes allowing the release of information for every year (current and historical).
3) Recognize and encourage all information within the Act to be released in open format digital file(s). The only exceptions should be around protecting personal information.
While I received a great deal of public support and encouragement, no changes were made to the Assessment Act.
This means we need to start raising the topic again to try and gain support and commitments to update the act from all political parties.
I want this data made publicly available before the assessments start mailing out in March, 2015.
Did you know? Assessment data is updated by SNB once a month and it is contained in a database that can be easily exported and provided for download. With government support and simple legislative changes, the province of New Brunswick can take one big step down the Open Data path!
Even better, given these tough economic times, more people, websites, and businesses can utilize this data to provide new or enhanced services. All of this can be done without costing our province another dime.
You need more proof?
This year, for the first time, I appealed my own assessment and had it reduced $26,000.
How did I know to appeal this time ? Using propertize.ca, I was able to quickly look at recent sales for comparable properties in my area. I knew that my property was over-assessed, and I was able to easily appeal the assessment. Data is power.
What are people saying?
As part of the petition, I asked people why they were signing it.
Below is a word cloud that helps sum up their comments: