Nobody likes to pay taxes, but they’re a fact of life. Money collected by taxes goes to pay for a variety of public services like roads, sewers and other important public infrastructure.
A vast majority of Regina residents pay their property taxes on schedule, but for those that don’t, the amount owed ads up quickly.
“So there’s currently $12 million in outstanding property taxes owed to the city. That is for 2018 and prior years,” City of Regina property tax and administration manager Tanya Mills said.
First reported by 980 CJME, Mills said 98 per cent of Regina residents promptly pay their taxes year-over-year. It’s the two per cent that are the problem.
“It’s about 2,100 accounts that are currently outstanding,” she said.
These outstanding tax accounts range from 2018, all the way back to 1995. The majority of the outstanding accounts are for 2018.
Taxation makes up a majority of the city’s revenue. The 2019 budget estimates $249 million in tax revenue out of a total revenue of $459 million.
Once collected, the outstanding property taxes will go to the general revenue fund. So what could that $12 million pay for in the city’s operation?
The municipal, provincial and federal governments recently announced each branch will be contributing $9.6 million to replace and realign the Winnipeg Street overpass. If the $12 million was used for that, the city would have over $2 million left over.
The city plans on tendering a design plan to turn the aging Wascana Pool into a “destination aquatic facility.” If approved, construction would expect to take two years, with the 2020 construction budget earmarked at $12 million.
Garbage collection is a service all residents use and benefit from. That department’s annual budget is $24 million, so the outstanding taxes would cover half that cost for the year.
“We are currently at the start of the tax enforcement process for 2018, so we do expect the $12 million to decrease as we progress throughout the year,” Mill said.
“We do a see a significant amount of payment come in throughout the year.”
Mills added the city prefers to work with people responsible for outstanding accounts before bringing in punitive measures. This includes options like a payment plan.
If taxes are not paid in full by June 29, with the exception of people using a payment plan, the city will begin charging a monthly 1.25 per cent late fee. That fee grows to 1.5 per cent after Dec. 31, and the city is allowed to run the responsible person’s name and amount owed in the Regina Leader Post.
If payment has not been received in the new year, accounts that are still in arrears by April will have a lien registered against the property. From there, the city has the right to pursue civil action and in the most extreme cases take over the title for the property.