Fifty-two properties owe the City of Brandon more than $775,000 combined in overdue taxes.
The latest arrears list, posted on the city’s website this week, show which properties haven’t paid their taxes in 2012 and 2013.
“(Property owners) have received three notices so far,” said Val Rochelle, the city’s director of finance. “The third one ... just this week.”
If the property owners fail to pay off the 2012 portion of the debt by the October deadline, they risk losing the property in a tax sale. Two properties were auctioned off last year.
The city posted the first tax arrears list back in January, which contained about 220 properties. The first notice is sent to the property owner that same month.
TAXervice, the agency hired by the city to recover property tax arrears, then sent out a notice via registered mail. The latest notice was done by personal service to the registered owner.
“I do believe that TAXervice goes definitely beyond what they are required to do,” Rochelle said. “They, on our behalf, make every attempt to ensure that people are not losing their properties.”
At the same time last year, there were 35 properties on the tax arrears list owing approximately $552,000.
The property with the highest outstanding bill is Shape Foods, the flaxseed processing plant located at 2001 Victoria Ave. East.
The property is listed at owing just under $300,000 ($157,500 for 2012 and $142,200 in 2013).
Taras Sokolyk, CEO of the flaxseed processing plant, could not be reached for comment. The plant has been on the tax arrears list for the past several years, but always clears up the debt by the deadline.
“They do have till October, and they’ve been on the list before and always redeemed,” Rochelle said. “So at this point we’re certainly not concerned about it.”
Pennzoil 10-Minute Oil Change, located at the corner of 18th Street and Rosser Avenue, has the second highest bill at just over $57,000.
The business opened its doors in 2012, after relocating from its previous address further south on 18th Street.
Dan Precourt, owner of Pennzoil, said they budgeted for a 50 per cent increase in property taxes when they moved, but were shocked when the property tax bills started coming in.
Precourt said at the previous location, the business paid roughly $9,500 per year in property taxes. They now owe about $25,800 for 2012 and $31,400 for 2013.
“The reason that our taxes are in the situation they are is because I’ve been fighting the city and I had hoped that if we resisted long enough, they would acknowledge us,” he said. “But that didn’t happen, it doesn’t happen.”
Precourt said he spent hours comparing his property to others with a similar circumstance, and found discrepancies in the way properties are assessed.
“We’ve gone from paying $800 a month to almost $3,000 a month,” he said. “I mean … had that been in the equation when we decided to redevelop the property … I can’t say that it wouldn’t be viable, but I can’t say that it would.”
Precourt said he is still looking at ways to address the situation, such as appealing the assessed value of the property.
He wanted to stress that he has “no objection whatsoever” to paying taxes, but just doesn’t believe it’s fair.
“I still wouldn’t mind seeing some change,” he said. “It doesn’t seem right.”
According to the city’s director of finance, the only way to address this type of complaint is by appealing the assessed value or classification through the board of revision. But if they were to file today, the next year the board would look at is 2015.
Other properties on the list include 863 10th St., which is the location of Brandon Squash and Athletics Centre ($31,300); the abandoned gas station at 402 Rosser Ave ($14,000); the vacant building at 701 Rosser Ave. ($5,300) and 910 Van Horne Ave. E. ($17,800). The majority of the list includes homes owing less than $10,000.
Property owners have until Oct. 16 to pay up.
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