AAOM Annual Travel Report

Hello AAOM Members,
We were lucky this year to have been able to send some of the AAOM executive team to some of our sister associations conferences this year including the AAA conference in Banff, Alberta, the NCRAAO conference in Deadwood, South Dakota, and the SAAA conference in Regina, Saskatchewan. 

AAA Conference

It was with great pleasure that Mike Taylor and I were able to attend and represent the AAOM at the AAA (Alberta Assessors Association) Conference at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity on April 26th to 28th. The conference theme was “Forward. Together”. Our conference trip did not start as planned with rental car issues. Luckily, once rectified we were greeted at the Presidents Diner at The Maple Leaf for a delicious supper which was followed up with a Welcome Reception.

The following day started with Opening ceremonies and greetings from the AAOM and other sister associations. The Opening speaker was Dennis Plintx from Plintx Real Estate. Dennis spoke about his life experience and how persevering against all odds has made him the person, he is today. “There is no other direction than forward and there’s only one way to move forward and that’s together”. Following him was a breakout session. I attended “Influencing Skills for Difficult Assessments” by Esther Hudson. This session give me ideas for moving a difficult assessment conversation with a ratepayer from anger to acceptance. How Empathy and Assertiveness are not polar opposite but how they can effectively control yourself in a conversation. She also taught us how we communicate with negative and positive language/body language. After lunch, a Legal Panel gave a refresher of Alberta’s Assessment Law Basics to its members. Clarifying, whose job is it to prove the assessment is correct? Who has the burden of Proof (onus) and does it shift. It might surprise you, in Alberta the onus is on the ratepayer.

The last day started with AAA State of the Economy followed by breakout session. I attended “Time Adjustments and Trend Lines” by Ning Zheng and Darren Rossiter. They touched on what information and data municipalities have to provide to support time adjustments and what trend lines should look like.

This was a great opportunity to network and learn from our sister association. Thank you for the opportunity and privilege to represent the AAOM.

NCRAAO Conference

It was with great pleasure that Erin Reid, Jennifer Martens and myself were able to attend and represent the AAOM at the NCRAAO (North Central Regional Association of Assessing Officers) Conference at the The Lodge in Deadwood South Dakota on June 28 and 29th. Our conference trip was a 12-hour car ride from Winnipeg to Deadwood. Luckily, we got perfect driving weather, which made the trip pass like a breeze. Once arrived in Deadwood we were a little late to join the President’s Reception Diner. We decided to go visit the town and go see a play “The Trial of Jack McCall”.

The following day started with Opening speaker VJ Smith, Author of the bestselling book “The Richest Man in Town”. VJ is a professional motivational speaker and spoke about his book. VJ has done the presentation over 3100 times across the country. His book is about how he met Marty Martinson, an elderly Walmart employee, and how it changed his life and many thousands of lives across the country. VJ memorable quote was “Give a little of yourself, the only person who can make you happy is you, be a better you”.

Following him was some breakout sessions. I attended “Maps: Beyond Who Owns What” by Stacey Martin a GIS coordinator for Fall River County, SD. She spoke about the benefits of using GIS and that each county should but utilizing GIS capabilities. She taught some very simple mapping technics using free GIS software for cost cautious counties. Following lunch, I attended “Cost vs Value in New Construction” by Dean Hedrick, General Manager of Hult Construction and Past President of Black Hills Home Builders Association. Dean’s goal was to broaden the assessor’s scope on how costs can differ. He spoke about lot costs difference (depending on soil density, topography), location of construction (proximity to city vs secluded), landscape options, type and quality of homes, local codes or subdivision requirements. Dean spoke on how some of these costs may add zero-value on assessments and how to treat these.

In the evening, we were given time to explore Deadwood, a beautiful town set in the Black Hills of South Dakota. We were able to drive up to Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse monuments and visit Wild Bill Hickok’s and Calamity Jane Grave Sites.

The last day started with another breakout session, I attended “Setting Values by the numbers” by Scott D. Johnson a Senior Field Manager for Vanguard Appraisals and IAAO International Instructor. Scott broke down the purpose of ratio studies by using a basic sale ratio study. He went over each primary statistic and explained what they add to the story. Scott said that statistics should be able to tell us a story about our data, even if our data is incorrect.

In the evening, a wonderful banquet gave us an opportunity to network with our neighbours from the South. Interesting information from my conversations, each county or town has their own assessment offices and employee typically 1 or 2 employees. Many of them are still using papers copies (hard copies) for their assessments. Many are using old cost manuals from 1998 and even some from 1972. I consider myself lucky

This was a great opportunity to network and learn from friends from the South. Thank you for the opportunity and privilege to represent the AAOM.

Marc Connelly


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