My fellow blogger Mr Prince has posted an article regarding the issue of taxes in arrears http://blog.johnprince.ca/ . At the public forum on November 9th the Mayor raised the issue of taxes in arrears, specifically the fact that this year there is over $1,040,000 outstanding. Then he went on to talk about how some people are consistently year after year behind on their taxes (which is not illegal) and stated that if they are going to continue to do this it is going to cost them more and more.
Presently if your taxes are not payed on time you get hit with a 10% penalty on June 1st plus a further 10% on January 1st, (Yes that's 20% per year) it sounds like the Mayor's intention is to increase that.
First impression is this is simple everybody should pay their taxes on time and if they don't make them pay.
It's never that simple.
I suspect that probably 50-60% of the outstanding back taxes are owned by developers that will never see the light of day again, slap them with 30-40-50% whatever you like its not going to get the bill paid they will just owe the municipality more. That issue will ultimately get resolved in a back tax sale. (Maybe if somebody bids on the property the only thing that changes by charging that group more is the need to recover a greater amount of dollars at the sale)
The second issue is sometimes you have either residential or business owners that for one reason or another miss the deadline by a matter of days. That's a problem with having a set date that you are charged 10-15-20% if you have not paid by that date, why would you pay before December 31st. If I know that I have been charged the penalty anyway why would I not hold on to my money for an extra six months its not going to cost me any more. There is no Incentive to pay once you have missed the deadline why not charge the 10% on the due date and then discount the penalty if you come in prior to the next deadline.
The next issue and this gets back to the fundamental issue in the Crowsnest Pass the average home owner is now paying roughly $2000 a year in taxes plus close to another $65 a month in Water/Sewer/Garbage plus your utility bills are going up another $5 a month on January 1st. Add all those things together you come up with $237 per month, lets not lose site of probably 60% of our homeowners live on a fixed income.
AISH pays $1188 per month, we have a lot of seniors living on less than $30,000 a year we have reached the point where they are spending 10% of their income just on maintaining the municipality.
So in my opinion you have three groups of late taxpayers:
One being the development company that will only pay its taxes through a tax sale.
Two those that for what ever reason are late on their taxes and really have no incentive to pay prior to the next deadline.
Three those that for either economic or financial reasons just can't keep up.
So if council wishes to increase the rates I can think of only one group above that its really going to have an impact on.
There is no big pot of gold here that's going to finance all those great ideas that were brought up last week and many years prior.