Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Tax sale public auction cancelled
The increase in COVID-19 cases prompted the Region of Queens Municipality (RQM) to cancel its tax sale by public auction, which had been scheduled for Jan. 10.
Instead, it's made the properties available to be purchased through a public tender process.
A total of 12 properties are up for grabs and all tenders must be submitted by Feb. 22. Combined, the taxes owed on these properties add up to nearly $24,000.
The list of properties available is a much smaller version of the original list made up a few months ago, which included 20 properties with a total $52,500 in arrears. However, since the list came out a few months ago, taxes on eight properties were paid off.
"You don't want to say the word tax sale," RQM Mayor Darlene Norman admitted in an interview with LigthouseNOW. "However, if you let people know that their properties are scheduled to go up for tax sale, people will pay their taxes."
The motion to approve the new tax sale process was made at RQM's Jan. 11 council meeting.
Properties are put up for tax sale if their owners fail to pay taxes owing on them for two years plus the current year.
The RQM tax clerk then provides 30-days notice to the property owner indicating the outstanding tax amount. If no response is received within 30 days, the property details are then sent to a lawyer for a title search, which takes about two months.
Once that information is back from the lawyer, the owner is given another 60 days to pay what's outstanding before the property is officially added to the tax sale list. The owner then has up until the date of the actual sale to pay the arrears.
If two top bids come in with the same amount, the bid that arrives at the RQM administration office first earns the property.
Tenders must be submitted in a sealed envelope and sent to the the office of the treasurer in the RQM administration office,
Lands for sale are being sold on an as-is, where-is basis. Property descriptions, a tax tender bid submission form and further instructions can be found at www.regionofqueens.com.
RQM looking to hire an asset management coordinator
Council has approved the job description and given permission to search for an Asset Management Coordinator to develop a plan moving forward.
RQM currently has more than $90 million in assets, according to Joanne Veinotte, RQM's director of corporate services. Adam Grant, the region's director of engineering and public works, advised councillors at their Jan. 11 meeting, "right now our records are quite embarrassing."
Any group receiving federal gas tax infrastructure funds are required to have an asset management in place, the mayor, Darlene Norman, explained later in an interview. "For whatever reason, the past council did not act upon that. Some municipalities in the province are well into this and we are now just starting."
RQM's chief administrative officer, Chris McNeill, indicated the municipality receives approximately $700,000 annually from the tax. He emphasized that an asset management plan needs to be in place by March 31, 2023 or the municipality runs the risk of losing that funding.
Norman opined that coming up with an asset management plan is a "big, big process" that may take up to two years. She explained it means giving a value to every piece of infrastructure RQM owns, including pipes in the ground, physical buildings, roads, sidewalks and bridges.
As well as cataloguing the assets, it also will be the new coordinator's responsibility to help plan a replacement schedule and costing, said the mayor.