Torrington property up for sale after taxes go unpaid

By Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Kneehill county – Kneehill County will move ahead with the public sale of a Torrington property with an unpaid tax bill. The decision was made by council at their regular meeting April 13.

Councillors listened to a presentation from Caroline Siverson, property tax officer, requesting councillors set the reserve bid for the property. 

“Administration brings forth the one property that remains on the tax sale listing for the 2021 public auction to set the reserve bid and conditions of sale as per the Municipal Government Act (MGA),” stated Siverson’s memo to council, who noted during her presentation the tax sale is scheduled for May 27.

“Pursuant to the MGA, Part 10, Section 8, council sets the reserve bid for Roll 32263445100, Plan 5594FI, Block 6, Lot 4, Torrington at $17,000 with the following conditions: The property must not be sold for less than the reserve bid, the purchaser takes possession of the property ‘as is,’ the purchaser will be responsible for the full 2021 (tax bill), the purchaser is to pay all transfer costs, the purchaser to pay GST and the full purchase price must be paid by a certified cheque or cash by end of business, May 27, 2021.”

It was noted during discussion the outstanding tax bill would be paid out of the sale price, with any funds left over given to the former owner. 

However, the sale can be cancelled anytime before it starts if the unpaid tax bill is made good.

Siverson explained that municipalities must go through a detailed process to recover unpaid taxes through a property sale, including offering a payment plan to the property owner. Siverson stated Kneehill County has tried to contact the property owner but has been unable to locate anyone. The property hasn’t been occupied since 2016.

She stated the reserve bid is required and must be as close to market value as possible. Siverson stated she contacted a local real estate agent to find out what would be a fair price for the property in question, and the real estate agent stated between $15,000 and $17,000 would be fair.

It was noted during the meeting an old mobile home is currently on the property and doesn’t appear liveable, plus an old shed and an abandoned vehicle would all have to be removed at the new owner’s expense. The water meter has already been deactivated. 

Siverson noted the county has already had interest in the property.

A motion was made to set the reserve bid at $17,000 with the conditions mentioned above, but at this point Coun. Wade Christie stated he felt that price was too high and made a friendly amendment to the motion of the lower price of $15,000 to start the bidding.

Coun. Ken King added that it appears the new owner would incur demolition and clean-up costs, so the lower figure would be a bit more attractive.

Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Mike Haugen stated that figure was within the fair market value quote so it was acceptable.

Councillors unanimously approved the reserve bid of $15,000 for the Torrington property in question.

Borrowing bylaw

Councillors passed second and third reading of Bylaw 1833, in effect a loan guarantee for the Town of Trochu and a seniors housing project.

Bill McKennan, Director of Corporate Services, reported to councillors that the bylaw previously passed first reading and was publicly advertised. 

McKennan stated taxpayers could halt the bylaw through a petition, but no petition was received so council was free to proceed if they wished.

Coun. Faye McGhee noted she was contacted by Kneehill residents opposed to a loan guarantee for another municipality.

Coun. Debbie Penner stated she also heard comments from people who had concerns about this bylaw.

Second and third readings of the bylaw were passed by 6-1 votes, McGhee being the lone dissenter.

By Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter/East Central Alberta Review