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Owe, owe! … Bay Roberts to focus on collecting outstanding taxes

By Craig Westcott

The Town of Bay Roberts is making some headway whittling down long overdue taxes, council learned last week.
In their information package for the public meeting there was a ‘Tax Receivables Summary’ outlining for the councillors just how much has built up in unpaid taxes over the past six years.
That figures now stands at some $2.1 million, down from a high of almost $2.5 million, said chief administrative officer Nigel Black.
The CAO noted the summary breaks down the outstanding amounts year by year for council’s information.
“We are required to fill out this form each year and have it presented to council and then forwarded to (the Department of) Municipal Affairs so that they are aware of our tax status,” he said. “That being said, Councillor (Perry) Bowering also recently asked about it, so it was a timely request.”
The total outstanding balance goes up and down each year, Black noted.
Deputy Mayor Geoff Seymour pointed out the figure includes unpaid property taxes, business taxes and water and sewer taxes up to the end of 2023.
“So going forward in 2024 the number will be refined, because some of this might be collected this year, but then again, there will also be bad debt this year,” he said. “So, the number is pretty fluid in that regard. Am I correct in saying some of this is probably not recoverable?”
Black said that is correct.
“So, I’d really like to see a realistic number, if possible, maybe for the next meeting,” said Seymour.
Black admitted it won’t be possible to refine that figure by the next public council meeting because it will take a “fair amount of analysis to go through all the individual accounts and figure out what part is uncollectable and what part of it is collectable. But that is something we’ve identified to do in 2024,” he said.
Seymour said he understood that and is eager to get a realistic estimate of how much money is likely to be recovered.
Black said there is an allowance for bad debt, or doubtful accounts at the bottom of the report, which is about $878,000 at this point. “But that’s like a rough estimate,” he cautioned. “There hasn’t been a detailed analysis gone into that.”
“Either way, it’s not improving,” said councillor Bowering.
Mayor Walter Yetman noted the number peaked in 2020, which was probably Covid-19 related.
The uncollected taxes that year amounted to some $389,000, Seymour observed.
“Prior to 2018 it was going up each year, so the direction of it at least has changed,” said Black.
Reading from the report, Mayor Yetman said the Town plans to increase collections this year by having tax sales, and an examination of uncollectable debts which may be inflating the Town’s receivables total.
“So that work is going to be done and we’re looking forward to a tax sale happening this year,” said Yetman.
Councillor Frank Deering wanted to know how long it’s been since the Town focused on its outstanding receivables.
“2019,” said Black.
Council then voted unanimously to accept the report.

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