City administrators say it could take at least five years to collect on $491,946.11 in unpaid 2017 property taxes, and that timeline isn’t sitting well with Prince Albert’s elected officials.
Financial director Cheryl Tkachuk laid out the most likely estimate during Monday’s regular council meeting. She said it takes at least two years before an outstanding account comes before the Provincial Mediation Board. After that, it could take another three years to get a resolution.
Part of that delay comes from sending registered letters to property owners, something they do to make sure outstanding tax notices are actually received.
When it comes to the $3.3-million in total unpaid property taxes, Tkachuk said they’re in various stages of collection. Some outstanding accounts are already on payment plans, so the city is getting their money. In other cases, the city is moving to take ownership of the property, and other are still in front of the mediation board or waiting in line for a hearing.
“There is a very specific process when it comes to outstanding property taxes on a house,” Tkachuk explained.
City council wasn’t happy to hear about the five-year wait. Many, like Ward 4 Coun. Don Cody, felt the city should pass a motion to get the issue on the agenda for the next SUMA convention. He said the process needs to be streamlined because it wasn’t fair to residents who paid their taxes on time.
“I know talking to other councillors throughout the province, they’re saying very similar things,” Cody said during the meeting. “It’s just too longa process. I’d like to see us have that conversation one day and then put a resolution together and have that taken to SUMA.”
SUBHEADLINE: City says privacy laws restrict them from naming names
Couns. Dennis Ogrodnick and Ted Zurakowski were the two most vocal members during Monday’s discussion about unpaid taxes.
Zurakowski told council that if he had his way, he’d publish the names of people who didn’t pay their property taxes so local residents would know who’s causing the problem. When he asked administration what was preventing them from making the list public, Tkachuk said it would violate the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIP).
“We’re (talking about) listing people’s names, and that is something that we can’t print according to FOIP,” she said.
Mayor Greg Dionne suggested that interested residents could look through the Land Titles Registry, although he also noted that the search is not free. A title detail search costs $11 according to the Land Titles Registry website.