Village of Big Valley council cuts minimum tax on ‘land-locked’ parcel

The Village of Big Valley council cut the minimum tax rate for a vacant lot after the owner claimed the full rate was unfair and complicating possible sale. The decision was made at the April 15 regular meeting of council.

Councillors read a letter from property owners Lorne and Pat Parkin regarding a parcel described as lot 22 block 18 near 5th Ave. who noted the parcel in question was purchased along with other property and because it’s vacant is being charged the village’s minimum property tax of $600 per year despite having no access or services.

“Village planning in the 2006-07 timeframe included 5th Ave. road closure and in fact allowed a house to be built on the only viable way to get a road frontage, water and sewer to lot 22,” stated the Parkin letter.

“This resulted in a significant devaluation of the property and rendering it hard to sell.

“When I was on council from 1995 to 2005 we started raising the minimum tax to encourage development of empty lots and this has morphed into a rather significant amount in taxes.

“We also at the time decreed that lots with no water and sewer available would be taxed at half minimum tax which would be fair treatment.

“I don’t know when this policy changed but respectfully ask that you revert back to that policy as it would make the lot more viable for sale.”

The Parkins noted $600 a year in taxes for a vacant lot without any access or services is too much.

The Parkins added that trying to sell the lot isn’t easy. “At this time I will try to sell it as-is and if not sold by end (of) May my intention will be to let it revert back to the village for a future tax sale,” stated the Parkin’s letter.

The Parkins also noted they keep the lot in question well-kept and plan to continue doing so.

Village Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Colleen Mayne noted the lot in question is located in the southeast part of town and was sold as part of a package with a residence which is located across the back alley. She summarized that the new owner of lot 22 block 18 is trying to sell it but feels the minimum tax charge of $600 per year is unreasonable.

The CAO pointed out the Parkins's letter states that if the minimum tax charge on lot 22 block 18 isn’t lowered the owners will not pay the taxes on it, with the parcel eventually becoming village property through the tax recovery process.

Coun. Dan Houle described the lot in question as “land-locked,” and said that if the village has to take possession of the lot and services were to be added it would cost the village money. Houle noted he agreed with the Parkins’ concerns.

The CAO noted that cutting the minimum tax charge for this parcel is something councillors would have to approve every year.

Councillors unanimously agreed to cut the minimum tax charge for the lot in question in half as requested by the owner.

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