Uncollectable debts written off in annual housekeeping

Posted on: February 8, 2018

Sally Smith

With barely the blink of an eye and absolutely no fanfare, Perth councillors unanimously passed a bylaw authorizing the write-off of 2017 outstanding provincial offences accounts in the amount of $1,623.52 at a recent Committee of the Whole meeting.

The accounts have been deemed to be uncollectable throughout the year, the primary reason being the offender is dead.

However, if a company is in default, the fine can be written off if all efforts to collect have been exhausted, the company was sold and the new owner is not responsible, the company has been dissolved, or the company has filed bankruptcy.

There are no direct financial consequences as the uncollected fines are not recognized in the town’s accounts as receivables. They are written off for accounting purposes only and do not absolve a convicted offender from the requirement to pay a fine, as debts to the Crown are owed in perpetuity and are never forgiven.

Treasurer Lang Britchford laughs when he emphasizes “the Crown will not forgive debt,” but he adds the reality is if someone has been dead for five years “the probability is the debt won’t be collected.”

He did recollect an exception of one individual dying and owing thousands of dollars. “His grieving widow didn’t want him put in the ground owing,” he said, so the debt was paid.

He added that the town is not an ambulance chaser. “We have to have a heart.”

The motion will go to council Feb. 20.