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Largest tax sale in over a decade

Fifty-eight properties with unpaid taxes were picked up by bidders at Fort St. John’s annual tax sale last month.
Fort St. John tax sale history, 2009-2022 (City of Fort St. John)

Fifty-eight properties with unpaid taxes were picked up by bidders at Fort St. John’s annual tax sale last month.

That’s the highest number of properties auctioned off in at least 14 years since 2009, according to data going to city council next week.

Properties go to public auction when property owners fail to pay their taxes for three consecutive years.

“The current property owners have now entered into their one year redemption period where they can redeem their property by paying all three years of back taxes owed, plus interest on the bid price,” writes finance director Shirley Collington in a report going to city council Tuesday, Oct. 11.

At the start of September, there were 111 properties eligible for tax sale due to their delinquent tax status, according to the report, which had dropped to 58 properties by the time of the Sept. 26 sale.

"Before the tax sale auction, the affected owners are only required to pay one year of back taxes in order to be removed from the tax sale auction," Collington notes in the report.

Thirty-five people attended the Sept. 26 sale, with bids made on all 58 listed properties, according to the report. Funds, however, were secured for all but six properties by the end of day, which were put up for auction again on Sept. 27 and sold.

“Bids were taken, and funds were secured by the end of the day and the annual tax sale auction was closed," Collington says.

Funds from prospective buyers at the sale are held in trust by the city during the one-year redemption period, according to the report.

“Once the current owner has paid their redemption balance, the purchaser's bid will be returned to them, plus the interest paid by the current owner on the bid price," Collington writes in the report.

Collington adds, “Generally, properties that have gone through tax sale are redeemed within the one year redemption period."

That includes one property the city was declared the purchaser of in the 2021 tax sale, but was redeemed by the owner on Sept. 16, just 10 days before this year’s auction, according to the report.

Still, not even the economic bust and oil crash of 2015, nor the last two years of the Covid-19 induced recessions of 2020 and 2021, saw as many properties put up for bid and auctioned off as was seen at this year's sale.

The city saw an average of just three properties go to auction annually between 2009 and 2021.

In 2016, ten properties went to auction, all but one of them eventually being redeemed by their owner, according to the report.

Read the tax sale report below.

City of Fort St. John - 2022 Annual Tax Sale Report by AlaskaHighwayNews on Scribd

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