Stettler town council set the date for the public auction of residential properties with unpaid tax bills. The decision was made at the July 20 regular meeting of council.
Councillors read two memos from Assistant Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Steven Gerlitz and tax clerk Rachel Morbeck regarding four residential properties and three mobile homes with unpaid property tax bills.
A staff memo presented to councillors noted the four residential properties in arrears included, with their assessed value, 5809 50A Avenue assessed at $260,920, 5822 50 Avenue assessed at $174,490, 5908 Spruce Park Crescent assessed at $112,550 and 4002 68 Street assessed at $280,470.
The staff memo listed the three mobile homes as #40 6017 52 Avenue assessed at $15,820, #43 6017 52 Avenue assessed at $26,030 and #50 6017 52 Avenue assessed at $24,460.
Gerlitz noted municipalities by law must follow a process when auctioning property to recover unpaid taxes: the property owners must be given a notice about the tax arrears situation, councillors have to set a reserve bid and the sale must be publicly advertised with the property owners given a copy of the ad. The last step is to hold the sale.
As well, a number of rules apply to such sales, according to Morbeck’s memo to council: Section 418 of the Municipal Government Act (MGA) states that the public auction must be held between April 1, 2021 and March 31, 2022, Under Section 419 of the Municipal Government Act (MGA) council must set a reserve bid that is as close as reasonably possible to the market value of the parcel and any conditions that apply to the sale, the tax recovery process can be stopped by payment of all tax arrears prior to the sale, the town may apply for ownership of the property if it is not sold at the public auction and after the town takes title to the property the property owner can regain title to the property if all taxes are paid before the town sells the property.
The staff recommendation for both sets of properties was to set the tax recovery auction for Nov. 23, 2021 and use the assessed values above as the reserve bids.
CAO Greg Switenky stated that residential taxes must be two years in arrears to go to the recovery stage, and mobile homes one year in arrears, so the town doesn’t start the recovery process if a property owner is, for example, a month late with their taxes.
Switenky also noted the mobile home sales involve just the mobile homes themselves, and not the property they sit on. The CAO pointed out the value of mobiles homes as compared to houses is noticeably lower.
Councillors unanimously approved the staff recommendation for the tax sale to be held with the reserve bids noted.
Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative reporter