City of Iqaluit to consider forgiving more than $340,000 in old debts

“These are truly, legally uncollectable debts at this point in time, there is no way we will ever get paid for this,” says Coun. Kyle Sheppard

The City of Iqaluit’s finance committee has recommended to city council a bylaw that would forgive over $340,000 in uncollectible debt. (File photo)

By Dustin Patar

The City of Iqaluit is considering a bylaw to forgive more than $340,000 in debts owed to the city before 2006.

Iqaluit’s chief administrative officer Amy Elgersma told the city’s finance committee Tuesday the debts are uncollectible because the city’s financial system crashed around 2005, leaving it without the needed documentation.

All of the debts in question are from unpaid fees. None is for property tax bills or lower base improvement fees, a city report states.

Coun. Kyle Sheppard, chair of the finance committee, said that given the age of the debts, they are past their statute of limitations.

“These are truly, legally uncollectible debts at this point in time. There is no way we will ever get paid for this,” he said.

“This debt needs to be written off.”

Alison Drummond, the city’s senior director of corporate services, said the proposed bylaw would give the city a better sense of what debts it’s able to collect.

“What I’m trying to do is show the auditor that we’re moving forward with some of these very old debts,” Drummond said.

According to a document provided to committee members, the debts are between 16 and 21 years old, with many belonging to now-deceased or former residents.

While some line items are as low as $20, there are several that exceed $10,000.

Among the biggest debtors are the Federation of Canadian Municipalities for amounts exceeding $52,390, the Government of Nunavut for amounts in excess of $44,000, the Baffin Regional Hospital for an amount exceeding $21,900 and Nunastar Properties for more than $14,350.

Although some of these accounts are still active with the city, Drummond said the debts can’t be paid because the city lacks documentation. She gave the example of the RCMP, which owes $13,801 for an arena rental.

“They were willing to pay it,” she said.

“There was absolutely no way that we could find the invoice or the documentation that would allow them to process payment.”

Drummond added that the majority of the debts face a similar issue.

Mayor Kenny Bell agreed the debts are uncollectible, but added that he doesn’t want to see the city forgiving future debts moving forward.

“I want to make it very clear that moving forward we want to collect taxes, we want to collect fees. We want to collect everything that’s owed to the city.”

In order to ensure similar debts don’t go uncollected in the future, after the city’s current finances are cleaned up, Sheppard said he’d like to add a formal collection policy to the next meeting’s agenda.

The next Iqaluit city council meeting is on Feb. 9.

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(21) Comments:

  1. Posted by pissed off on

    No documentation for this large amount of money ?????????

    Come on !!!

    Ever heard of a proper filing system ? or a photocopier for that matter ?

    Someone should be slapped for that . In the end the dutiful taxpayers of Iqaluit have had to make up for that poor and slack administration

    THank you

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    • Posted by Northern Guy on

      In order to pay off any old year debts you need to reconcile the payment against an invoice. If, as the City states, its accounting system crashed in 2005 then those invoices are lost forever and BTW there is not a major corporation or business left in the developed world that operates its accounts payable system works off paper copies of invoices, this is after all the 21st century.

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  2. Posted by Lol on

    Wow has the City been run poorly historically. Seems like Bell is at least trying to clean the slate and move on. How many mayors from 2006 did nothing about this? Another gift from Redferns legacy of do-nothing.
    .
    Kenny I want to tell you that although you can’t sue anybody to collect, you can still withold city services until old amounts are paid. Don’t have documentation? Generate an invoice. Settle at 50% if they’re willing to pay. Sell the debt even.
    .
    The city can’t just keep on thinking that it will just get bailed out by daddy GN and needs to stand on its own two legs. At least tell us someone was fired or disciplined for this.

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    • Posted by Fact check on

      Madeleine Redfern wasn’t mayor in 2005-6. It was Elisapee Sheutiapik.

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    • Posted by Lolzors on

      Kenny has been a disappointment so far. I voted for him thinking he’d geow up, but he still has a massive chip on his shoulder that he can’t seem to shake off. Always playing the victim. Always acting like an edgelord. I can’t wait for the day when someone serious steps up to the plate to lead this city out of the mess its in.

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      • Posted by ILLU on

        Personally I do not agree with one word. Our mayor has done so much and more.

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      • Posted by Little Boy Attitude on

        Kenny likes the blame game and to pat himself on the back as you see him bragging. Last week the was a post on social media patting himself on the back and wondering if anyone has noticed. Then the comments on a house being sold that the city collects taxes on while taking the time to criticize the past council for the aquatic center parking lot. Decision put forward by current CEO Amy E.
        Wonder why there are so many staff issues at the city. Read into the last comment. “I don’t want to see this going forward”. Come back to reality little guy.

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    • Posted by Northern Guy on

      You can’t simply conjure an invoice out of thin air for a debt that was accrued 15 years ago. Without a justification for the debt i.e. an entry within a functional accounting system the receiver has every legal right to simply refuse to pay.

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      • Posted by Conjurer on

        You can create an invoice for the amount owed. The rcmp are willing to pay. They acknowledge receiving services and are willing to pay, but for processing need an invoice.

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  3. Posted by CERB 2.0 on

    Lots of incentive to be part of the minority that adhere to doing the right thing… isn’t there?

  4. Posted by Is that you talkin…? on

    Writing off old, uncollectable debts is part of normal business accounting practices, and the cost of the loss would have, or should been on the books as debt loss long ago. The really unfortunate thing is the way this is being portrayed as debt forgiveness, which really sends the wrong message.

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  5. Posted by ILLU on

    WHERE is the incentive to pay on time? previously a discount was offered.

    WHY are there only ‘rewards’ for those who did not pay?

    WHEN are Rate Payers going to be assisted and not just delinquencies??????

    Frustrating. Come on Rate Payers, do you too want to withhold your payments and become delinquent too. The rewards are great.

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  6. Posted by Money Money on

    “I want to make it very clear that moving forward we want to collect taxes, we want to collect fees. We want to collect everything that’s owed to the city.”
    .
    One of the things he wants to collect is $900.00 for every ambulance ride. Yep, that’s what he charges for every ride in one of the city’s big red taxis. We pay that through our taxes whenever an Inuk rides in one of those taxis. If a non-Inuk rides in the red taxi they pay directly. If they have insurance, they may get some of it back. But no matter how the money comes, it goes to the City.

  7. Posted by Citizen on

    I vote NO and encourage the collection . I agree that there is far too little gain for those who do actually pay if there are no repercussions. Offer a payment schedule. Offer all those who pay their bills early an incentive.

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    • Posted by StaySafe on

      The invoices are permanently lost. Without the invoices the debts cannot legally be collected and have no standing.

      If they aren’t written off they reduce the net income of the city as an uncollected payable. They just sit on the books sucking up budget space.

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      • Posted by Payer on

        invoices lost or not, the debts owed should not have gotten to this point. AS SOON AS ONE INVOICE is not paid, cut off services. Isn’t that what QEC, Bell, etc all do?

        the real worry is the taxes that are owed. PAY UP or all Rate Payers should stop paying too. I agree, what is the incentive to pay if so many are getting it FREE?

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        • Posted by StaySafe on

          Standard contracts accepted by Canadian Courts is for 90-day payables, with mutual extension, and always with proper, timely invoice.

          Once the invoices were lost, the debts became unpayable. This is on the City of Iqaluit and their old software. Once that broke, the debts were almost impossible to collect. The law is clear onus is on the creditor for proof.

  8. Posted by About the looks on

    Is this more about looking good amd throwing past mayors under the bus (our mayor’s favourite pastime) than doing the right thing? What would be the harm in leaving those amounts on the books? Does it cost money to leave an extra line there? These weren’t citizens with no income, these were governments and large organizations who have plenty of money.
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    Looking good city of iqaluit. You’re financial wizardry is brilliant.

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  9. Posted by Uvaali on

    You have numbers down to the dollar and dates. Sounds like you have the cops wanting to pay rental fees. Take it. You list what agencies owe. Go from there.
    Hire money collectors.

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  10. Posted by Paul Murphy on

    I ill now assume there is a daily backup of the whole system stored offsite?

    I assume they will also now print a hardcopy of any invoice from now on?

    I assume they have a team of collectors on the inside who will now start earning their pay.

    Yes I do know what assume means. To suggest they did nothing about this in 15 years is typical incompetence.

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  11. Posted by Uvanga on

    if you can’t afford the house , ex. Taxes , then sell the house.

    If the debts are allowed and I say to everyone to quit paying their land lot payments or taxes too.

    City to list out what they forgive and so others who own homes can withhold them too.

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