The Village of Clive will leave a bylaw amendment in place to ease financial effects of the COVID-19 pandemic after a discussion at their Dec. 14 regular meeting of council.
Village Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Carla Kenney presented councillors with an agenda item on rescinding Bylaw #541-20 which was approved earlier this year to amend Master Rates and Fees Bylaw #541-20 – to waive the Utility Transfer fee.
Encouraged by the provincial government earlier this year, many municipalities across Alberta adopted measures to ease the burden of the COVID-19 pandemic on their residents, including the waiving of late penalties on unpaid property taxes and utility bills, and regular readers of the ECA Review would have noticed a number of requests coming from residents requesting relief from taxes and fees, usually attributed to financial difficulties caused, directly or indirectly, by the pandemic.
Kenney noted in a typical year the village, when facing unpaid utility bills, moves that unpaid debt over to a property owner’s tax roll. She also noted the village charges a $40 fee to do so.
Bylaw #541-20 waives this fee.
Kenney pointed out the Dec. 14 regular meeting would be the last regular meeting of council before the new year and on Jan. 1, 2021, an 18 per cent penalty would be applied.
She stated councillors had to decide whether they would keep the bylaw amendment in place or rescind it and go back to charging the fee.
In her report the CAO noted the same number of accounts in Clive would be affected by this change in 2020 as would have been affected one year ago, that number being 24.
Coun. Norma Penney asked Kenney if she knew what other municipalities were doing in this situation.
Kenney responded it appeared most communities seem to have just offered relief last spring, and are returning to standard operations now.
Coun. Susan Russell stated she was concerned that if the fee was waived on an ongoing basis people would start to think that fees such as the $40 utility transfer fee had been permanently eliminated.
Russell stated waiving the fee again would set a precedent, but at the same time she understood that many residents continue to suffer due to the pandemic.
Kenney pointed out the utility transfer fee doesn’t involve a huge amount of staff time and would add up to about $1,000 if it was applied to all 24 accounts.
Councillors eventually decided to leave the amended bylaw in place which waives the $40 utility transfer fee.
Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, East Central Alberta Review