Unsightly premises fees added to County of Wetaskiwin tax bill

Property owner cannot be located, so contractor cleaned yard

County of Wetaskiwin councilors approved charging an absentee property owner for an unsightly premises clean-up after a presentation by staff at the general council meeting Mar. 12.

Assistant CAO Jeff Chipley presented councilors with a memo regarding an unsightly premises complaint about property located at SE 14-47-28-W4M, Lot 2, Block 7, Plan 5017TR.

“As a follow-up to a complaint from 2017 regarding the aforementioned property in Mulhurst Bay, which was cleaned up with the associated fees being transferred to taxes on September 5, 2017, Bylaw Enforcement inspected the property on May 19, 2018 to check on the property to see if it was in an unsightly condition once again,” stated Chipley

“This property continues to be unmaintained as the one property owner on title is deceased and the other property owner has not been located.

“Currently, municipal taxes have been unpaid and a writ has been placed on the property by Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) for $127,923 and associated costs of approximately $19,286, leaving Council to resolve to keep the current property owners on title until CRA takes action.

“On May 19, 2018, the property was found to be in an unsightly condition and after attempts to contact the property owner that has yet to be located, a contractor was hired to clean the property at a cost of $275 in the summer of 2018.

“In the latter part of 2018, an invoice for $275 was sent to the property owners on title, which was not acknowledged as outlined previous, like all correspondence over the past several years.

“Therefore, Administration is bringing forward this unpaid invoice for unsightly premise clean-up to be added to the tax roll. In accordance with the Municipal Government Act, Section 553(1)(c) states that Council may add unpaid expenses and costs associated with the bringing of a property into compliance with an enacted bylaw as long as the contravention occurred on all or part of the parcel.”

Chipley stated a complaint was made to the county about the property in 2017. He also explained the property originally had two owners listed, but one owner passed away and the other owner cannot be located.

He also stated a writ has been placed on the property.

Reeve Terry Van de Kraats asked how long a situation like this could go on for. Chipley answered that since the writ is around $128,000, taking over the property is not an option. “We’re okay with leaving the property as-is,” said Chipley.

Councilor Ken Adair stated there is a residence on the property that hasn’t been used since the one owner passed away.

Councilor Dale Woitt asked what was unsightly on the premises. Chipley answered unkempt grass, trees, abandoned vehicles and refuse. “It looked like an abandoned residential property,” said Chipley.

Councilors approved the staff recommendation and move the clean-up fees to the already outstanding tax bill.

Stu.salkeld@pipestoneflyer.ca

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