Utility Bill Collection Costs
Whereas changes to section 369(1) of The Municipalities Act have resulted in additional costs to municipalities applying unpaid utility accounts to taxes, due to the requirement to provide 30 days notification by registered mail to both owner and tenant; and
Whereas section 369(1) allows for certain expenses and costs incurred by the municipality to be added to the tax roll, expenses incurred in collecting or transferring utilities to taxes is not included; and
Whereas we believe this to be an accidental oversight or omission in legislation;
Therefore be it resolved that the SUMA advocate with the Ministry of Government Relations to amend The Municipalities Act to allow expenses and costs incurred by a municipality in collecting unpaid utility accounts to be added to the tax roll.
Amendments to Section 369(1) of The Municipalities Act in 2014 added a requirement to send notice by registered mail to both the owner and any tenant prior to unpaid utility accounts being added to taxes. Costs for registered mail quickly add up for municipalities, stretching already tight administrative budgets.
The Tax Enforcement Act allows for all legal and administrative costs, including a reasonable amount to reflect time expended and costs incurred by persons who are employees or officers of the municipality and who are acting in a legal or administrative capacity, to be added to taxes. We believe that the additional costs of the new legislation would be viewed similarly to the costs of tax enforcement, and the lack of ability to charge them to the tax roll is by accidental oversight and not design.
- Government Relations has noted this concern and will consider it for the next time the municipal Acts are opened for Amendment. The intent behind requiring municipalities to give notice to the tenant and landlord through registered mail, using deposits and considering disconnection of service is to help ensure that adding unpaid tenant charges to the tax roll would be used as a last resort.
- Government Relations has received complaints from landlords regarding the ability to add unpaid utility bills to the tax roll, and adding another administrative cost may not be helpful in this respect. The ministry is committed to balancing the interests of municipalities with those of landlords and tenants, and would require that landlords and tenants be fully notified of any additional costs prior to the costs being added to the tax roll. There is an issue of fairness for the property owner that needs to be considered.