2020 Municipal Partnerships Report
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2020: a year like no other
It’s been an extraordinary year.
With 2020 assessed values ready to go, just weeks away from mailing residential Property Assessment Notices, the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Soon after, the provincial government postponed the 2020 Assessment Update.
In a year of firsts, we’ve worked to find new ways to support you in both your immediate and long-term goals.
Shifting priorities to meet your needs
As the pandemic hit, our number one priority was to support our municipal partners and employees. During the first few weeks, we engaged our Municipal Liaison Group (MLG) and municipalities to learn about your challenges, priorities and timelines.
What we heard set our agenda for the rest of 2020:
  • Keep MPAC’s business going, with minimal disruption to services.
  • Continue capturing new assessment to support municipal tax bases.
  • Adjust timelines to allow more processing and flexibility.
  • Offer a deferral of the municipal levy payment.
Through collaboration and partnership with municipalities, we have achieved this and so much more.
“We’re listening, adapting and leveraging technology to meet our municipal partners’ priorities, so that you can focus on supporting Ontario’s communities during these unprecedented times.”
Carmelo Lipsi, Vice-President and
Chief Operating Officer, MPAC
Being fiscally responsible and responsive
We understand your municipalities are making difficult decisions. We’ve also sought new ways to manage our cash flow and defer spending where possible. This focus allowed us to offer municipalities a one-time levy payment deferral to enable you to support property owners.
MPAC’s Board of Directors also approved the corporation’s 2021 operating budget, with a total municipal levy increase of 0% and no reductions to service.
“We are conscious of current municipal operating pressures. That is why we approved a 0% increase to MPAC’s operating budget for 2021.”
Alan Spacek, Chair, MPAC Board of Directors
Working differently to serve you better
We have found new ways to serve municipalities better while managing our costs.
A key way we’ve done this is by working together with our municipal partners to get the information we need to quickly capture new assessment, despite closures and restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
We launched a new online process for municipalities to submit digital building plans to MPAC through Municipal Connect. A safe and secure way to share this information.
More than 200 municipalities provided electronic building plans in 2020, with many more providing access to information in office or through curbside pickup.
“While we’re taking advantage of MPAC’s curbside pickup program during COVID-19, we see the value in submitting building plans to MPAC online through WorkSight because it’s secure and efficient both for us and MPAC. We’re working to digitize our plans and move to online submission not just during the pandemic but for the long-term as well.”
Steve Zorbas, Interim CAO/General Manager of Corporate Services and CFO, City of Welland
Capturing $37.3 billion in new assessment
To further capture new assessment, we found efficiencies and extended our timelines. As a result, we captured an additional $4.6 billion in new construction and/or additions to existing property, bringing the total new assessment captured in 2020 to $37.3 billion.
Our responsiveness – and municipalities’ efforts to share assessment information in new and innovative ways – means this important source of municipal revenue continues to grow. More revenue to help fund your local priorities as you respond to the continuing uncertainties created by COVID-19.
“We took advantage of MPAC’s new digital submission process during the pandemic, and as a result we’re seeing more of our new assessment processed than we would have expected if MPAC hadn’t had access to the information during COVID-19.”
James Krauter, Deputy Treasurer, City of Guelph
Connecting with municipal partners
Collaboration with our municipal partners is more important now than ever. That’s why we continue to look for opportunities to connect, to share insights and information about your assessments and Ontario’s changing property landscape.
Pre-pandemic, we provided an update at the Rural Ontario Municipal Association (ROMA) Conference. We shared that over the past 10 years, the value of Ontario properties has grown by more than 70% with a current assessed value of $2.96 trillion. The number of properties has increased by 623,000 over the same period.
As municipal associations moved conferences online, we were there.
  • Nicole McNeill, President and Chief Administrative Officer, Alan Spacek, Board of Directors Chair, and Carmelo Lipsi, Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer, presented at the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) Annual Conference. They shared information on how we were adapting our business to support municipalities as we navigated the COVID-19 crisis together.
  • We participated in the Municipal Finance Officers’ Association Conference, where we shared information about our work, had valuable discussions with our municipal partners, and presented an update on continued enhancements to our municipal portal, Municipal Connect.
  • We met with members of our Municipal Liaison Group throughout 2020, to share information and find solutions to the challenges resulting from the pandemic.
  • Through our new monthly Municipal Webinar Series, we shared updates on topics of local and provincial interest to municipal partners. The live webinars connected us with an average of 300 participants every month, and we extended this reach as we shared recordings on our Municipal Webinar Playlist.
  • Our ISO 27001 certified IT team shared best practices from our data security journey in AMCTO's Municipal Monitor magazine and at the Municipal Information Systems Association (MISA) Conference.
  • During a delegation to the AMO Digital Government Task Force in March, we provided valuable cyber security insights that went toward developing AMO’s toolkit for municipalities across Ontario.
“We’re looking at ways to work collaboratively with our government partners to share common information with our shared stakeholders. We recently did this by co-hosting a municipal webinar on the Farm Property Class Tax Rate Program with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) and Agricorp. Municipalities got to hear from all three parties and we had a great dialogue that helped answer common questions.”
James Harvey, Account Manager, Government Relations, MPAC
Helping you see over the horizon: transforming how we share data with municipalities
Throughout 2020, we introduced significant user-driven improvements to Municipal Connect to enhance your experience and get the data needed to capture new assessment while protecting property owners’ information.
The next iteration of Municipal Connect is on the horizon. Built in-house, to meet the evolving needs of our municipal partners, we have accelerated the project timelines and engaged a group of 18 municipalities to provide regular feedback as we build it.
The new system will create the foundation for a highly collaborative tool that improves the user experience to make information easier to access and expand the ways municipalities can use MPAC’s data to plan for the future.
“Uploading digital building plans in WorkSight has saved our municipality time because we’re not looking up and manually printing paper plans for MPAC to review, and now MPAC has more timely access to information that will help us grow our tax base.”
Stephen Dickey, Director of Business Services and Township Treasurer, Township of Loyalist
Meeting our Service Level Agreement
Our Service Level Agreement (SLA) establishes performance standards for assessment services that municipalities and property owners rely on most. As the pandemic has changed our world and the way we all operate, we adjusted our priorities to match your evolving needs.
Across 12 measured service levels we met 90% of all service level targets for the 12-month period leading up to Q3 2020. This is a result of our commitment to collaboration, processes and technology.
In response to municipal partners’ needs, we made a significant improvement in processing severances and consolidations. As of June 2020, we had processed 83% within our SLA standards, up from 20% in 2019. A 63% improvement in one year for one of our most important processes, which continued during the remainder of 2020.
“Our MPAC Account Manager’s diligence in monitoring uploads of building permits and proactively bringing a lack of activity to our attention allowed us to address an issue we weren’t aware of. Our excellent working relationship allows us to collaborate and resolve issues quickly and as a result, no building permits were missed and no assessment was lost.”
Lisa Beaulieu, Assessment and Real Estate Specialist, City of North Bay
LOOKING FORWARD
As we look to 2021, we will continue to collaborate with our municipal partners on ways to best support you during these challenging times.
In addition to launching the new iteration of Municipal Connect next year, we will also be introducing new tools for municipalities to leverage MPAC data to support your operational needs. We have heard from our municipal partners about the important role data provides in helping you to identify and implement local solutions. We’re committed to being part of the solutions.
Together in 2020, we worked to identify ways to gather building plans and have realized the value of digital submissions to accelerate the addition of new assessment for municipalities. In 2021, we will continue to work with our municipal partners to identify more ways we can support you in digitizing your building approvals and plans.
Overall, COVID-19 has presented many challenges for all of us. At the same time, it has also compelled us to work together to find ways to do things differently. We expect this will continue in 2021 and are committed to collaborating with our municipal partners as we navigate these changing times together.
“In 2021, we’ll remain focused on fostering dialogue and collaboration with our municipal partners to make sure we continue to meet your evolving needs.”
Chris Rickett, Director, Municipal and
Stakeholder Relations, MPAC
Thank you
In an extraordinary year filled with challenges and uncertainty, our collaborative relationships have made a great deal possible.
Thank you for your partnership and your ongoing commitment to keeping communities across Ontario safe and strong.
Our Municipal and Stakeholder Relations (MSR) team is here to support you, as you continue to focus on the issues that matter most in your communities. If you have any questions about this report, contact your local Account Manager.
“The pandemic has given us the opportunity to become a more innovative and agile partner. We look forward to continuing to explore new ways of connecting with and serving our municipal partners.”
Nicole McNeill, President and
Chief Administrative Officer, MPAC
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