The City of Williams Lake will proceed with a tax sale in the fall for delinquent taxes but the City’s chief financial officer said that move usually encourages property owners to pay and only one tax sale has gone through in the last three years. (Monica Lamb-Yorski file photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

Williams Lake proceeding with tax sale, move normally results in payment of delinquent taxes

COVID-19 did not impact the percentage of taxes paid, said City’s CFO

In the last three years the City of Williams Lake has only held one sale due to delinquent property taxes.

So when the provincial government offered municipalities the choice to defer tax sales in 2020 due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, staff suggested the City proceed with its usual tax sale process.

“We are proceeding with the risk of a tax sale to encourage people to pay,” the City’s chief financial officer Vitali Kozobenko said.

“Ever year we start calling people to tell them they have taxes outstanding and if they will not pay, their house will go for sale and they usually come up with the money to pay the City.”

During the regular council meeting Tuesday, July 14, council received a report from Kozubenko indicating that by the July 2 deadline, there were 36 properties with delinquent taxes. Three business properties and 33 residential, including 13 manufactured or mobile homes.

That amount was similar to other years, he said.

He told the Tribune that 91.8 per cent of the taxes were collected for the City by the July 2nd deadline, which is pretty normal.

“We had a recent discussion with other communities and a lot of the communities feared much less payment of taxes are potentially struggling more than Williams Lake. Some communities from the Coast were saying they collected only 50 per cent of taxes.”

Of the communities they communicated with, Belcarra village, part of Metro Vancouver, had the highest rate with 95 per cent of taxes collected, while Williams Lake was second.

“People at the bottom said they only collected 28 per cent of the taxes, but I think they deferred their payments until September. It was a lengthy procedure to change the tax date and the council decided ‘not now,’ and it was too late in the game to change the tax date.”

Properties that make it to a tax sale will have had unpaid taxes for three yars.

Advertizing for usually goes out in September for two weeks letting the public know of an upcoming tax sale, with the addresses of the properties included.

“We don’t publish the names, but we do publish the address,” Kozubenko said.

Collecting the delinquent taxes will potentially bring between $86,728.64 and $370,200.30 in tax revenues.

Payees have a one-year grace period to pay the amount owing, he added.

Read more: City of Williams Lake continues to chip away at debt load

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