Back taxes re­main a con­cern for County

The Victoria Standard - - Local News - ANNE FARRIES

Keep­ing the county in the black takes a lot of work.

At the last fis­cal year end, un­paid taxes in Vic­to­ria County amounted to $1,608,500, or roughly 19 per­cent of the to­tal tax roll of $8,485,000. Of the un­paid por­tion, $798,746 was in ar­rears.

“Staff in the tax depart­ment spend fifty per­cent of their time on col­lec­tions,” Leanne Maceachen, in­terim mu­nic­i­pal CAO, said Septem­ber 6th.

The prov­ince has flagged the County as in "the red zone," which means hav­ing un­paid taxes above ten per­cent of the an­nual roll, since at least 2012. The worst year was 2013, when the un­paid por­tion reached 27 per­cent.

"Fail­ure to col­lect taxes can sig­nif­i­cantly im­pact ac­tual rev­enue, cash flow, and thereby could hin­der their abil­ity to pro­vide ser­vices," states the Depart­ment of Mu­nic­i­pal Af­fairs on their Mu­nic­i­pal In­di­ca­tor web­site.

Still, the depart­ment is mak­ing head­way.

Although the tax roll rose slightly each of the last three years, the un­paid por­tion has shrunk by a greater amount, es­pe­cially when com­pared to 2014. That year, $2,340,200 was owed to the county, with $912,180 in ar­rears.

Neigh­bour­ing In­ver­ness County, which like Vic­to­ria County is mostly ru­ral but has a higher pop­u­la­tion of well­heeled sum­mer cot­tagers, is far­ing bet­ter.

That county’s tax roll last year to­talled $12,350,300, of which $1,160,900 or 14 per­cent was in ar­rears at year end. The num­bers were sim­i­lar dur­ing the pre­vi­ous two years.

Tanya Tibbo, In­ver­ness Di­rec­tor of Tax­a­tion, said, “We have an em­ployee whose job is largely spent on col­lec­tions, in­clud­ing pay­ment plans, search­ing for con­tact in­for­ma­tion, tax sale prepa­ra­tion and ar­rears let­ters.”

“All em­ploy­ees within the tax of­fice, in­clud­ing my­self, will make pay­ment ar­range­ments with prop­erty own­ers as re­quired. It is cer­tainly a pri­or­ity for the fi­nance depart­ment.”

Last year, In­ver­ness ad­ver­tised 164 prop­er­ties for tax sale. Roughly half the own­ers caught up with their bills be­fore the auc­tion. The re­main­ing prop­er­ties, ex­cept for seven which at­tracted no bid, were sold.

Vic­to­ria County listed seven prop­er­ties at a tax auc­tion Au­gust 29.

Read the full re­view of Vic­to­ria County’s Fi­nan­cial Con­di­tion at no­vas­co­tia.ca/dma/fi­nance/in­di­ca­tor/fci.asp.

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