Prince Albert city councillors have voted to put a downtown property up for public tender due to the owners still owing $176,046.47 in taxes.
The building, located at 1203 Central Avenue, came into the city’s possession on Feb. 10 after owners MFN and MB Holdings Inc. failed to follow through on payment promises.
The issue has drawn public attention because of the business connections Ward 3 Coun. Evert Botha has to the property.
Botha did not participate in the city council vote on Monday due to conflict of interest laws. Afterwards, he said he supported the council’s decision.
“The city has been more than lenient over the years in accommodating our needs,” Botha said following the council meeting. “If I wear my hat as a city councillor, I fully understand and support the motion that was presented today.”
Botha is the CEO of MB Diamond Technologies, a minority partner in MFN and MB Holdings. The building was purchased nearly 10 years ago, and since then the company has struggled through economic difficulties.
The property owners were hit with numerous penalties after failing to make the required tax payments. At one point, Botha said they did have an agreement to pay $7,000 to the city every two weeks until the debt was covered. However, he added that further economic difficulties, like a stagnating Saskatchewan economy, have made payment difficult.
“The bulk of the amount that you see there is all just penalties that have been occurring,” Botha explained. “We were hoping to have the property taken over into our name completely as part of a refinancing arrangement, but the stars just haven’t lined up in time.”
Botha is adamant that he’s never asked for or received preferential treatment from the city in any matter regarding the property. He said the issue was not a factor in his decision to run for council because the business had already reached an agreement with the city on a repayment schedule.
For the rest of this story, please see the Feb. 15 online or print edition of the Daily Herald
A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that the property in question would be put up for public auction. It will instead be put up for public tender. We apologize for the error.