Sexsmith looks to recover $94K in lost taxes from abandoned well

·2 min read

Sexsmith hasn’t collected tax on an abandoned Firenze Energy well since 2019 and is now seeking to recover the lost revenue from provincial programs, said mayor Kate Potter.

The property tax on the well for 2019 and 2020 amounts to $94,380. This includes the portion for the education requisition which the town already paid to the province, Potter said.

“$94,000 represents about 3.5 per cent of our operating budget,” Potter said.

“We of course don’t want that to come at the taxpayers’ expense.

“That’s what ends up happening when these companies don’t take care of their taxes owing, so we will follow every course of action we can to get that reimbursed.”

The well is located on town-owned land west of the tracks between Peace River Bible Institute and Heritage Pointe, Potter said.

The town gave notice to Firenze Energy “numerous times” over the two years, she said.

Rachel Wueschner, Sexsmith’s chief administrative officer, said the town recently received notice from the reclamation company i3 Energy that the well is abandoned.

i3 Energy advised the town it has a plan to complete the reclamation of the land, Wueschner said.

During its meeting last week Sexsmith council voted to write off the $94,000.

Two provincial programs may assist in recouping some of those dollars: the designated industrial requisition credit (DIRC) to cover the municipal tax and the provincial education requisition credit (PERC) for the education portion.

According to the DIRC policy, tax money paid by towns to the province are either refunded or the towns get credit on the next year’s requisitions.

“There is no guarantee you’ll get that money, but if it doesn’t get approved this year you can re-apply next year,” Potter said.

Since notice of the well abandonment was only given in January, taxes on the well will also be owed to the town for a portion of 2021, she added.

She said the town has until the end of February to apply.

Brad Quarin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Town & Country News