Annual tax sale puts properties on the block

Three years of tax arrears saw more than a dozen Trail properties go up for auction at city hall Sept. 30.

Three years of tax arrears saw more than a dozen Trail properties go up for auction at city hall Sept. 30.

According to the local government act, municipalities can hold an annual sale of properties with taxes that have not been paid for three years, the last Monday in September.

Prior to the public auction, the city is required to post the delinquent properties in at least two issues of the local newspaper, and this year, there were 32 properties on that list.

Advertising the property address puts the owner on notice, and in Greater Trail, that usually means taxes are paid up before the end of the month.

This year 14 properties went to public auction at the tax sale, confirmed Rino Merlo, Trail’s deputy director of finance.

“The total taxes outstanding on these properties was $114,546,” said Merlo. “With an upset price of $122,534.”

The upset price refers to outstanding taxes, interest, penalties and fees, which is the minimum price the city must receive at time of sale.

Three individuals attended the 2013 tax sale, but because they did not bid on the properties, as per the local government act, the city was declared the winner, added Merlo.

The owner of the tax sale property still has a one-year redemption period to pay the upset price and reclaim their land without losing the title.

“Council may, by bylaw, extend for only one year,” explained Merlo.

“This is possible if the upset price has not been paid in full within the first year and the municipality was declared the purchaser at the tax sale auction.”

Merlo said that in this case, the property owner has upwards of two years to pay back the upset price of the parcel of land at the time of the tax sale, all costs incurred by the purchaser to maintain the property, taxes advanced by the purchaser and interest on any amount in excess of the upset price.

The total number of properties advanced to tax sale in 2012 was 12, with all but two of the properties redeemed.

Warfield and Montrose had no properties to auction, however Fruitvale had eight lots proceed to sale, which was unexpected, said Lila Cresswell, the village’s chief administrative officer.

“It has been many years since we’ve had a property go up for public auction,” said Cresswell. “Usually at the last minute the taxes get paid up. It was a surprise to have that many properties, and no one to show up for the sale.”

With no bids at the public auction, the lots, which are all on one property, were picked up by the village for the upset price of $34,385.