Ponoka council approves conditions to sell eight tax properties

Lengthy list of terms settled on for public auction of properties behind on their taxes

While it may not come to it, a set of terms and conditions have been approved for a potential public auction of eight properties behind on town taxes.

Ponoka town council passed a motion at its meeting on June 26 that supported 14 terms and conditions presented by administration. These terms will govern the possible sale of any of those properties and are outlined in the The Municipal Government Act (MGA).

Municipalities, under the MGA, are required to recover taxes that have been outstanding for more than one year through a process whereby the town offers the land up for sale in a public auction. All of the properties at the auction will have a reserve price set based on requirements in the MGA.

Sandra Smith, communications manager, explained there are currently eight properties that could be sold off.

“That number has dropped from 25 since last November, as several people have paid their arrears in full since then,” she said.

Also, any proceeds over the taxes owed, plus remedial costs, Crown expenses and a five per cent administration fee are set aside for 10 years in a separate account. If the money is not claimed by the previous property owner in that time frame, then that money goes to the town.

Any property owner can, right up until the auction is held, pay off the full amount of tax arrears or enter into an agreement with the town to pay off the outstanding amount over a three-year period. At that point, the property cannot be auctioned off unless the agreement is breached.

Smith added the number of properties at the auction could continue to decrease if the arrears are paid before the auction date.

Included among the conditions for the auction are that the land is offered ‘as is, where is’ to the successful bidder, any successful bidder is responsible to pay the current year’s property taxes as well as transferring the land title and obtaining vacant possession of the property.

In addition, any successful bidder must pay for the property at the time of the auction — by either paying full price for any amount of $10,000 and less; or for higher amounts, a deposit of $10,000 and the balance paid within 20 days. Plus once the land has been sold at the auction, the previous owner has no further right to the property.

As well, there are restrictions on who can bid or buy a property for sale with the auctioneer, councillors, CAO, designated officers or town employees are not able to bid unless directed to do so on behalf of the town. The town may also become the owner of any property not sold at the auction.

“Administration will set the date and time for the auction and will bring back a report to council recommending the reserve bids to be set by council,” Smith stated.

However, the meeting date at which that report will come back to council has not been determined yet.

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