Tax Sale Policy Well Conceived??

Ron Bolin — September, 29, 2010
Darrell Bellart’s story in today’s Daily News: “Tax sale policy well conceived” fails to make its case. While embroidering the concept, the fundamental nature of the obligations which the city has taken on is absent. For example:

  • Were the houses we have purchased owner occupied, rented or vacant and as they are all now, in effect, rental properties, who gets the rent for these city owned houses?
  • Are they encumbered by mortgages or other pledges and who pays those mortgages or pledges now?
  • Who pays the insurance on these properties?
  • Is there a fixed term for which the city will carry these properties before taking possession, i.e. the same as the one year moratorium currently in effect? Or does the city have longer range plans?
  • The province has a number of tax deferral programs at very low rates, i.e. less than one can make on a secure bank investment or savings bond. Why aren’t they used by the owners and if they do not use them are they likely to ever be able to repay the back taxes and fees to the city?
  • Does this move by the city, as the tax deferral programs seem to do, make money for the deferrer as the final repayments are below the rate of return on the money saved?
  • Is this a method by which the city can relatively inexpensively acquire residential properties which may then be used for public housing?

I hasten to add that at this time I can neither support nor oppose this new  strategy which could, depending on circumstances and financial details make a great deal –or very little– sense, as it has not been sufficiently exposed.  I hope I may be pardoned for being somewhat skeptical of Council’s business acumen in the light of murky and expensive deals with Mr. Berry, with our conference centre “partners” and our constantly increasing rate of property taxation.  If these issues have been addressed and answered, Mr. Bellaart’s article did not present them.  Perhaps he could in a future piece.