By Cecilia Nasmith/Today’s Northumberland
You’ve heard of properties being sold for taxes.
If taxes and costs are recovered, and the sale results in a surplus, municipalities – until recently – could keep that surplus. Now it has to go to the province, and Cobourg council has joined the list of municipalities urging the province to reconsider.
Treasurer Ian Davey explained the process, which he noted is not a common occurrence. In all his years with the town, Davey said, he has only seen tax sales take place a handful of times.
“A minimum price is set, a minimum bid amount that includes all back taxes, all costs and legal fees,” he explained.
“When there are proceeds that come in in excess of that minimum bid, the municipality is only allowed to keep the amount necessary to pay off the taxes and the costs. Any excess goes back into the courts, and anyone who felt they had a claim on that excess – be it the owner or anyone with a lien – can make application to the court. If there were no claimants, the surplus would come back to the municipality.”
He recalled one time that happened, a property near YMCA Northumberland. The Y asked if they could have that surplus, and the council of the day agreed.
The province has changed that process – the court holds on to the excess for up to 10 years for anyone with a claim, and then it goes to the province.
“That was the change,” Davey said.
“That is what the correspondence is about, asking the province please to relent on that and let it come back to the municipality.”
The matter came to council’s attention through appeals from other municipalities passing motions urging Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Steven Clark to make that change. Cobourg council passed its own motion of support.