City firm on tax arrears
Committee recommends no reductions

Arthur Milnes
Northern News Services

NNSL (Sep 11/98) - You might call it the issue that just won't go away.

City councillors once again wrestled with the issue of property tax arrears and the interest rates the city charges -- 24 per cent annually -- during a meeting Wednesday.

All told, 16 local property owners have now sent a form letter asking council to reduce or waive the amount they owe due to the late charges.

"We acknowledge that we have back taxes owing on our properties," the letters state. "While we are striving to pay these overdue amounts we know that the 24 per cent interest payable year after year has made the payment of these taxes extremely difficult and for many of us impossible to make."

The letter campaign was started by John and Janis Madsen who own property in Yellowknife but live in Victoria, B.C. They could not be reached for comment.

According to city figures, they owe $9,426. A list of all those in arrears was published, as required by GNWT legislation, in the July 31 edition of the Yellowknifer.

In total, the city is owed about $4 million.

The others who have sent in letters are: Sharon Carpenter, Territorial Funeral Homes, Northern Enterprises 1990 Ltd., Spur Aviation, Richard Leblanc, Mary-Ellen Cassidy and Richard Savard, Levi and Bertina Stead, Bryan and Cynthia Firlotte, George and Cosimina Merglia, Giorgio's, James and Sherry Baillie, Diane and Fred Edgar, 913046 NWT Ltd., Robert Morris and Laura Comishen and the Dene Cultural Institute.

After discussing the issue, committee members have recommended that council not agree to the requests. Citing GNWT legislation, they directed city staff to bring to their attention requests for debt forgiveness that will benefit all city residents. This was done in the past with the Northern Frontier's Visitor's Association.

Last month, council denied a similar request by the Inukshuk Housing Co-op who were seeking a reduction in the amount of interest owed on their back taxes.

"Council had absolutely no choice," said Mayor Dave Lovell. "You have to treat everyone the same."