Castor resident urges council to review tax arrears penalty procedure

Written by ECA Review

A Castor resident spoke to town council at their regular June 12 meeting regarding the tax arrears penalty and the procedure that the Town of Castor has in place regarding notices.

Michael Courtney told the council that he was “taken aback” when he saw the statement balance on his taxes. He said that he had been doing his taxes for 40 years while living in Castor and was sure he had paid his taxes in full and on time during the previous tax season.

Courtney says he and Karen Simpson have no issue paying the first 15 per cent penalty for missing the payment.

“What we do kind of take issue with actually quite strongly is another 15 per cent put on with no notice given to us, no chance to pay that before the penalty was imposed,” Courtney said.

Courtney said they would have been to the town office “right away” with a cheque if they had known they had missed the payment.

There were general notices posted on Facebook and in the town newsletter but Courtney said the notices only mean something to people who know they have not paid.

“I really am disappointed that that wasn’t taken into account before we were slapped with that extra 15 per cent. And I know because I looked into that municipal government that you aren’t required to give notice, it’s not a legal requirement on your part,” Courtney said. “So you’re fully within your legal rights to do that as you did. Sometimes I feel that what you’re legally required to do and what you should do ought to do as neighbours.”

Courtney said he had phoned other communities, such as Killam, Hanna and Forestburg and said they all give notices before imposing any of the penalties.

“I’m not even really asking for special treatment,” Courtney said. “I think that the policy in general could be looked at in the future for dealing with cases like that because like I said, I’m sure we’re not the only ones that have made an honest mistake, missed a payment and would appreciate and be able to come right in and correct that mistake.”

Council had taken Coutney’s representation as information and decided they would come back to it at their next council meeting with a decision.

RCMP quarterly report
Property crime rates in Castor have experienced a notable decrease in the past year compared to the 2021-2022 fiscal year.

Coronation RCMP officer Sergeant John Pike presented the quarterly report to the Castor council during the regular June 12 meeting.

In the fourth quarter of the 2022-2023 year, Coronation RCMP had 58 property-related offences; in the fourth quarter of the 2021-2022 year, there were 77 offences.

In the fiscal 2022-2023 year, there have been 246 property-related crimes, with seven still under investigation as of June 12. In the 2021-2022 year, the Coronation RCMP had 338 property-related crimes.

“We’ve been trying to hold more and more people accountable,” said Sargent Pike.

People can be put on curfew by the RCMP. In the last quarter, 20 curfew checks were conducted.

“We’ve been starting to do that to get more of these people who are committing property crimes so we can check on them and make sure they’re home which helps again for reducing property crime,” Sergeant Pike said.

Coronation RCMP has also increased their visibility around the Town of Castor, especially in the areas broken into multiple times. This has also increased the number of traffic stops that are conducted within the community.

Coronation RCMP is currently in the process of getting more of their members trained on the speed radars.

In the fourth quarter of 2022-2023, Coronation RCMP had 331 traffic-related stops. Last year, during this same time, they only had 188 traffic-related stops showing the increased presence of the RCMP in Castor.

Skating fees
Council has lowered the fee to $75 from $100 for basic skating, the fee will cover 10 sessions per skater.

Basic skating is for children aged three to seven years old who are learning the foundations of how to stand and move on ice.

For the 2022-2023 year, the fee was $100 per skater for the 10 sessions; however, Rec Board determined the price was too high for families to pay, and they hope that with the price decrease, they will get more skaters.

“We might as well try it for a year,” said Councillor Kevin McDougall.

There will be no change in fee for power skating, it will continue to cost $100 per skater.

The proposal given by the Rec Board recommended fees remain the same stating in their report to council, “as most power skating participants are involved with the minor hockey program, families are fielding higher costs to hockey registration, and the need for the skills in power skating is vital to the development of our players.

During the 2023/2023 session, there were 30 power skaters from U9 to U18. They had a loss of $1395 as coaching, ice time and other wages cost $4,395 for the season.

Rec Board has also asked the community service director to look for a sponsor to support the program and cover the cost of ice time.

Jessica Campbell
ECA Review

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