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Chasing deadbeats

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services

Rankin Inlet (June 01/05) - The hamlet of Rankin Inlet is getting tough with its efforts to collect money owed through land leases and municipal services.

SAO John Hodgson says with no property tax, the hamlet bills for land leases, garbage pick up, water delivery and pumping out sewage.

He says the revenues are extremely important to the hamlet and have to be paid.

"These revenues are used to pay down our debenture incurred from the installation of the utilidor project," says Hodgson.

"The fear is one day we'll be totally dependent on our monthly equity payments and they won't be there.

"Then we're in trouble."

The hamlet is having the most trouble with land leases and its $30 per month garbage fees.

A standard lease in the hamlet costs $500 a year, while an equity lease is equivalent to buying a lot.

A new lot in Area 6 is worth $50,000.

A client can pay the $50,000 outright, or put 10 per cent down and pay the rest in equal instalments over the life of the lease.

Between the two, the hamlet can be owed as much as $200,000 at any given time.

"We're going to be more aggressive with our collection policy and that includes taking some of these cases to small claims court. In fact, we're in the process of proceeding with 18. Those people are in receipt of letters from the hamlet informing them we are about to start legal action, which can lead to the nasty business of garnisheeing paycheques."

More action to come

There are another 250 hamlet accounts more than 90 days in arrears.

Finance comptroller Lyne Toner says of those 250, about 50 per cent will require some form of legal action.

She says some people are delinquent on both their land-lease and garbage-collection bills.

"We're looking at taking legal action against 50 individuals to collect on the arrears," says Toner.

"I'm expecting a call from the small claims clerk any day now on the first group of 18 we took action against.

"Once I receive confirmation that everything is in order, we'll be able to move forward with the small claims process."