Fort St. John collected 83% of its taxes owed by its July 2 deadline this year.
The city issued 9,423 tax notices for a levy of just over $50 million, which includes collections for the city, school district, regional district, hospital, and other provincial authorities.
However, there was $8.1 million outstanding after deadline, according to a report to council from finance director Shirley Collington. Nearly $490,000 in penalties have been issued.
Over the last decade, the annual rate of tax collection has increased by only 2.77%, while the city's tax base has grown by 1,906 properties over the same period, a 26% increase, Collington noted in the report.
Of the $50 million in taxes levied, the city accounts for a net of $31.6 million, which includes property taxes and other taxes levied for local area improvements, utilities, and transit.
The amount of unpaid taxes is up from 2018, when $7.7 million was still owed after deadline. In 2017, unpaid taxes were at $8.6 million; at $7.1 million in 2016; and at $5 million in 2015.
The city holds a tax sale every fall to recover taxes on properties that have fallen into arrears over the last three years.
Collington notes residents are increasingly choosing to pay their taxes online or through monthly pre-authorized debits. The city is also working to bring electronic homeowner grant capability to residents, she notes.
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