Getting tough on taxes
Bay Roberts considering new collection system
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:
• 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;
• 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.
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.
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.
The town will consider, on an case-bycase scenario, legitimate circumstances of financial hardship.
Nigel Black is the chief administrative officer for the Town of Bay Roberts.