Stettler county denies two tax requests, agrees to tax relief for Paradise Shores

·3 min read

County of Stettler council denied two requests for tax forgiveness at their regular meeting Nov. 10 but entered into a tax agreement with business owners from the Buffalo Lake area.

County Tax Clerk Sharon Larsen presented two requests from different property owners to forgive late tax payments, both of which came in after the deadline set by the municipal bylaw which states taxes were due by the last business day of October which in 2021 was Oct. 29, a Friday.

Larsen presented the first request.

“The ratepayer is asking council to consider forgiveness on the November penalty $685.23,” she stated in her memo to council. “Since the tax deadline is usually Oct. 31, 2021 and the 31st lands on the weekend.”

Councillors were given a copy of the property owner’s request with names removed, but noting it involved tax roll #663902.

“This year I made a mistake in paying my taxes late due to my misinterpretation of the date on the calendar,” stated the property owner’s letter.

“Usually I pay my taxes on Oct. 31 and I did not notice the date had changed this year. Oct. 29 is the last office day in the month.

“I understand that the notice had the correct due date written. However, I still paid on Oct. 31.

Officially this meant that I was late in payment since the bank would have posted payment on Nov. 1, 2021.

“The total cost of 10 per cent of the taxes is around $685 and this amount would be considerable both for my family’s finances, about three months worth of my electric bill for my home,” stated the property owner.

Larsen noted in her memo that the Municipal Government Act (MGA) gives council the authority to forgive taxes and penalties “if equitable” and that other Stettler County property owners missed the deadline and paid the penalties.

Coun. Les Stulberg asked if the tax notices had the due date on them, to which Larsen answered, “Yes, it’s stated on the tax notice.”

Both Coun. Ernie Gendre and Paul McKay stated council could consider tweaking the bylaw’s wording to say “last day of the month” rather than “last business day of the month.”

Coun. Justin Stevens stated many county ratepayers already paid the penalty and if this one was forgiven it could cause a “snowball” effect.

Stevens stated he sympathized with the ratepayer and also pondered looking at the bylaw’s wording in the future.

Stulberg stated he doesn’t necessarily like penalties but the property owner had four months to pay and the tax notice stated the due date clearly.

A motion to grant the tax forgiveness was defeated by a 1 to 6 vote, Gendre in support.

Second request

Larsen presented the second request, which had no letter included but was made by a property owner with account HUT003 who arrived at the county office Monday, Nov. 1 to pay taxes which was one day late.

“The ratepayer is asking council to consider forgiveness on the November penalty $5,921.60,” stated Larsen’s memo.

A motion to grant forgiveness was also defeated by a 1 to 6 vote, Gendre supporting.

Buffalo Lake request

Keith Wilson and Doug Wilson of Paradise Shores appeared before council to discuss the agenda item “tax agreement,” with Keith noting they were requesting a “tax break” due to “unforeseen circumstances” which resulted in them “...not able to generate any revenue.”

When they appeared, councillors moved into “closed session” to discuss the item privately.

After about 25 minutes, councillors returned to the open meeting, where they unanimously agreed to enter into a tax agreement with the Wilson brothers that forgave county tax penalties and the Wilson brothers agreeing to pay $46,858.96 in property taxes.

Coun. Stulberg stated he wanted to point out these developers have hit an unforeseen snag, that Stettler County has helped developers in the past who’ve hit snags and that this tax agreement was similar to past efforts the county has made for other developers.

Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, East Central Alberta Review

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