Letter to editor,
Re: Tax Recovery Arrears List registered with Land Titles March 26, 2021
I have not been able to verify that any of the Municipal Government Act (MGA) requirements have been met by the Village of Morrin (ie: no record in meeting minutes, not on Gazette website; not in newspaper) and yet apparently lots have been sold.
How would buyers have known about lots for sale with no public auction? This begs the question of the legitimacy of what apparently has transpired. Who solicited the buyers?
I received a letter from council that one of the properties was owned by the Village and told I was trespassing by mowing grass there.
A resident related to me they were told by CAO Plachner that the Tax Arrears List was private and confidential which is false.
I was told by Mayor Hall in a conversation Sept. 26, 2023, that all the properties on the Tax Arrears List were sold at $16K, and the CAO had listed the auction in the newspaper but did not receive any response so the Village had now sold the properties.
According to another resident, Mayor Hall related the same information only that the selling price had been $25K.
I asked the CAO to let me know in what newspaper and in what issue the Public Auction notice appeared but received no reply.
I requested a place on the agenda for the upcoming regular meeting of council Oct. 18, 2023 to ask council for clarification on the status of the Tax Arrears Recovery for 2023 but have been denied access to council by the CAO.
Again it was related to me by another resident that they asked the Deputy Mayor about this issue and was told to consult the CAO. No reply from the CAO was forthcoming.
In conclusion, the Morrin village council needs to live up to their mandate and manage their employee, CAO Plachner.
Due to the absence of cooperation and openness, variety of information and secrecy, I am offering a $500 reward to anyone who can provide the complete truth about what is going on in the Village of Morrin regarding the administration of the Tax Arrears Recovery for 2023.
MGA mandatory requirements
The Village of Morrin submitted a Tax Recovery Arrears List to Alberta Land Titles dated March 26, 2021 and as per the Municipal Government Act:
Section 412 (1c): A municipality must annually, not later than March 31, post a copy of the tax arrears list in a place that is accessible to the public during regular business hours.
Section 415 (3): Subject to section 423(3), a person may exercise the right to pay tax arrears any time before the municipality disposes of the parcel in accordance with section 425.
Under Section 418 if the taxes have not been paid nor a payment agreement reached, the municipality must offer for sale at public auction any land shown on its tax arrears list.
Properties that are offered for sale are those that received notification from the Registrar of Land Titles by August 1 of the previous year.
Under Section 419 council must establish a reserve selling price before it can auction a property. The reserve bid is set at a level that is as close as reasonably possible to the market value of the parcel.
The municipality may acquire the services of an independent, professional appraiser to provide it with a written report that establishes market value for setting the reserve price.
Under Section 421 council must advertise the public auction. The property or properties being auctioned must be listed in the Alberta Gazette not less than 40 days and not more than 90 days before the auction.
A second advertising requirement is that the auction must be advertised in one issue of a newspaper having general circulation in the municipality.
These advertising processes are mandatory requirements. If they are not met, the auction results can be nullified if challenged through the courts.
Section 421(4): Besides sending a copy of the advertisement to the assessed person named on the tax roll a copy must also go to all individuals with a registered interest in the property.
Section 429 restricts the auctioneer, councillors, the CAO, and the employees of the municipality from bidding on, or ‘acting as an agent’ in buying the property.
Section 424: A municipality may become the owner of a parcel immediately after the public auction if the parcel is not sold.
Section 427(1): The money paid for a parcel of land at a public auction:
Must be deposited by the municipality in an account that is solely for proceeds of the sale.
Section 427(3): If there is any money remaining after payment of the tax arrears and costs the municipality must notify the previous owner that there is money remaining.
Respectfully, Howard Helton