Big Valley council stands by minimum tax charge for vacant lots

Big Valley Alberta Wheat Pool Elevator - July 27, 2018 ECA Review/Terri Huxley
Written by Stu Salkeld

A resident’s angry letter to Big Valley village council over his tax bill won’t elicit any changes to the way vacant lots are taxed in the municipality. 

The issue was discussed at the May 27 regular meeting of council.

Village Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Tracy Mindus presented councillors with a letter from a property owner in town angry about his/her tax bill. The letter was visible during the Zoom council meeting but was not available otherwise.

Apparently the owner of a lot on or near 5th Ave. South in Big Valley was complaining about the minimum tax levy he/she had to pay on a vacant, undeveloped lot that doesn’t have street access. 

Mindus noted Big Valley has a minimum tax levy for lots that are valued under $38,000, which includes the lot in question. The CAO stated the minimum tax charge for a Big Valley lot valued under $38,000 is $600 per year.

Mindus said Big Valley has an assessor who sets the assessed value of property in the village upon which tax bills are based. She further noted no vacant lot will be assessed at over $38,000 in value.

Coun. Harry Nibourg stated that because the lot in question is unserviced chances are water service won’t be run there but if a house is built on it, the village would have to run services to it, costing the taxpayers money. 

Nibourg asked if the minimum tax levy could be reduced?

Mindus stated she would contact the assessor in that case. She also noted the minimum tax levy doesn’t take into consideration whether it’s developed or not.

Mayor Clark German stated that the owner must have known at the time they bought that lot it was unserviced and German stated he assumed the price of the lot was lower because of that.

Mayor German also noted that there has been no increase in the minimum tax levy in Big Valley in six years and the increase this year was $100 and German stated he felt the reasoning behind that increase was sound.

Coun. Art Tizzard stated he himself owns a similar lot and pays the minimum tax levy on it every year.

Mayor German stated he was not in favour of making more sub-levels of rates for the minimum tax levy.

Coun. Nibourg, while reading the letter, stated the property owner also seemed concerned that other residents were gardening for free on public property nearby, while the letter writer had to pay taxes to garden on a lot that he/she owned.

Further, the letter writer also suggested the village look into dissolving and becoming part of the County of Stettler.

Mayor German stated he was not a supporter of that idea, as the village council is much quicker at addressing issues in the village than the county would be.

Coun. Tizzard added that he has been told several times that the County of Stettler is not interested in taking over Big Valley.

Councillors decided to accept the property owner’s letter as information.

 

Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

ECA Review

About the author

Stu Salkeld

Stu Salkeld, who has upwards of 28 years of experience in the Alberta community newspaper industry, is now covering councils and other news in the Stettler region and has experience working in the area as well.

He has joined the ECA Review as a Local Journalism Initiative Journalist.

Stu earned his two-year diploma in print journalism from SAIT in Calgary from 1993 to ’95 and was raised in Oyen, Alta., one of the communities within the ECA Review’s coverage area.