Back taxes remain a concern for County
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.