OLDS — Town council voted to set March 28 at 2 p.m. in council chambers as the date, time and place for a tax recovery auction.
Reserve bids for those properties are $279,000 for one and $2,880,000 for the other.
A town document says reservations and conditions contained in the existing certificate of title remain.
The purpose of the auction is to recover taxes and penalties accrued for non-payment of taxes.
Once taxes are in arrears for two years on a property, a tax lien can be placed on the property and that lien will only be removed all taxes in arrears, including any penalties, are paid in full. If only a part of the taxes in arrears is paid, the lien stays on the title.
If a tax recovery lien has been placed on a property and taxes in arrears have not been paid by March 31 of the following year the Municipal Government Act (MGA) requires the town to offer that property for sale.
Finance director Sheena Linderman and chief administrative officer Brent Williams noted property owners have up until one minute before the auction begins to pay all the taxes and penalties owning.
If they do so, at that point, that particular property would be removed from the auction block.
“Typically that is what happens,” Linderman said.
Coun. Darren Wilson asked what happens if no one attends the auction and there are no bids for the properties in question.
Linderman said if no one has attended after the auction has been open for half an hour, then it’s shut down and the town takes ownership of the property.
In the town document, the two properties were only listed by their legal descriptions.
Coun. James Cummings said he understood that may be necessary, but asked if advertisements for the properties for the sale will feature “an actual address that people can recognize.”
Linderman said the town does not do that, but those interested can get more specifics by going onto the town website under the assessment enquiry.
Again, Cummings said he understood that may be necessary from a legal perspective but “if we are trying to sell something, we should be, I think, being a little more flexible.”
Cummings also asked if the sale can be conducted at an auction house, rather than town premises.
Linderman said it can’t be done at an auction house, but an auctioneer could be hired to conduct it. However, that auctioneer would still have to conduct the sale according to regulations in the MGA.
“The tax sale process is a very delicate one in Alberta," Williams said.
He said the vast majority of – or all – such sales tend to involve business properties or involve related parties.
As a result, “releasing this information too publicly could have an effect on some of the property owners in arrears, so we tend to be a bit more cautious that way,” he said.
"With larger centres that have more tax rolls coming year to year and perhaps more popular purchase items, that’s where an auctioneer can be hired to come in and (bid) on the auction,” he added.
“But if we only have two or three to 10 rolls, generally, I’ve done auctions before. It’s more of a cost-saving measure than anything.”
Linderman said she has presided at Olds tax recovery auctions in the past, but at the time of discussion, she and Williams hadn’t discussed who would be doing it this year.