Get­ting tough on taxes

Bay Roberts con­sid­er­ing new col­lec­tion sys­tem

The Compass - - EDITORIAL OPINION - BY TERRY ROBERTS

The Town of Bay Roberts is mak­ing plans to im­ple­ment a new tax col­lec­tion pol­icy that will see coun­cil make full use of ev­ery means avail­able to en­sure the pay­ment of prop­erty, busi­ness, wa­ter and sewer fees.

The draft pol­icy was pre­sented at the May 31 coun­cil meet­ing, and could be adopted at the next meet­ing on June 14.

It will re­place an old pol­icy that was “outof-date, not cur­rently fol­lowed and some­what cum­ber­some,” Nigel Black, the town’s chief ad­min­is­tra­tive of­fi­cer, stated in a letter to coun­cil.

Coun­cil felt the need for a new pol­icy, de­spite the fact that col­lec­tion rates are “above 90 per cent,” Mayor Glenn Lit­tle­john stated in late 2010.

“ We have to do a bet­ter job in the col­lec­tion of tax ar­rears,” Lit­tle­john told coun­cil dur­ing his 2011 bud­get speech on Dec. 14.

He added: “ We re­al­ize there are spe­cial cases and we will re­view each case … but have no doubt that it is our in­ten­tion to col­lect taxes ow­ing.”

The town hopes to col­lect some $4.65 mil­lion in taxes this year, a large per­cent­age of its $6.6 mil­lion op­er­at­ing bud­get.

Mean­while, the new tax pol­icy clearly out­lines the pro­to­col for col­lect­ing out­stand­ing fees, Black ex­plained, and in­cludes some very firm mea­sures in­tended to main­tain the high­est pos­si­ble tax col­lec­tion rate.

Some high­lights of the pol­icy in­clude:

Col­lec­tion process

• The town will uti­lize all pos­si­ble op­tions un­der the Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties Act to col­lect ar­rears;

• A for­mal process of col­lec­tion will be­gin six months af­ter the tax due date;

• Ef­fec­tive im­me­di­ately, the town will com­mence col­lec­tions pro­ceed­ings for all out­stand­ing ar­rears from 2010 and ear­lier;

Giv­ing no­tice

• First no­tice — delin­quents will re­ceive a letter re­quest­ing pay­ment and/or ar­range­ments to pay within 30 days;

• Sec­ond no­tice — a de­mand letter re­quest­ing pay­ment/ ar­range­ments within 10 days;

• Fi­nal no­tice — ad­vises that if pay­ment/ar­range­ments are not made within 10 days, the town will pro­ceed with ei­ther the dis­con­nec­tion of wa­ter ser­vices, seizure of rental in­come (where ap­pli­ca­ble), a tax sale and small claims court.

With­hold­ing per­mits

The town will not is­sue any new per­mits to prop­erty own­ers who are in ar­rears.

Cold shoul­der to busi­ness

• The town will not know­ingly do any busi­ness with com­pa­nies or prop­erty own­ers who are in ar­rears.

• In the event the town does busi­ness with a delin­quent busi­ness or prop­erty owner, the cost of the ser­vice will not be paid, but ap­plied to the out­stand­ing bal­ance.

Ar­rang­ing pay­ment

The town will en­ter into pay­ment plans with delin­quents. An im­me­di­ate pay­ment of 10 per cent of the out­stand­ing bal­ance will be re­quired, and the re­main­der must be paid off over a one-year pe­riod.

Hard­ship cases

The town will con­sider, on an case-by­case sce­nario, le­git­i­mate cir­cum­stances of fi­nan­cial hard­ship.

Photo by Terry Roberts/The Com­pass

Nigel Black is the chief ad­min­is­tra­tive of­fi­cer for the Town of Bay Roberts.

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