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Small but worrying uptick in unpaid property taxes

Lowest rate of tax collection since economic 'meltdown' of 2008
Dawson Creek has seen a small uptick in the number of properties with unpaid property taxes amid a downturn in the region's oil and gas sector. e

Dawson Creek's deadline for property taxes has come and gone, and the city has seen a small but worrying uptick in the number of properties with outstanding bills.

Just under 93 per cent of properties paid their taxes by the July 4 deadline, avoiding the steep 10 per cent penalty.

"As an absolute number it’s still quite nice," Chief Administrative Officer Jim Chute said. "92.7 per cent of your tax invoices were paid by deadline.

"As a trend line, though, it’s a little worrisome. It’s the lowest number in six years, basically since we came out of the economic meltdown in 2008."

As of July 18, 163 more properties than in 2015 had unpaid tax bills. The city has collected $24.5 million from taxes so far this year, down from $24.9 million the year prior.

The city is still owed around $1.9 million in outstanding taxes—a roughly one per cent increase over last year.  

According to Chute, while that increase is relatively small, "for about seven per cent of our people, taxes weren’t affordable for them, so it’s something to keep an eye on."

Properties with unpaid taxes can be sold at the city's tax sale after three years. If there is no purchaser, the property is transferred to the city.

The city found itself owning more and more land after the economic downturn in the late 1980s.

"We were in that position a lot, and it's just not where you want to be," Chute said.