County of Stettler council voted against waiving tax penalties after a family requested they do so while clearing up a debt owed to the municipality.
The decision was made at the Sept. 9 regular meeting of council.
County Chief Administrative Officer (CAO)Yvette Cassidy provided councillors with a request from tax roll 980100, but it should be noted the owner’s name had been blacked out in all of the agenda documents.
“A ratepayer is requesting that Council consider tax relief on the tax penalty of their tax account, they are in the process of taking over the property from his brother,” stated Cassidy in the agenda memo.
The CAO stated the property in question had unpaid taxes and the property had actually moved into the tax recovery sale process; that is, the municipality was going to auction it to pay off the tax debt.
The tax sale has been cancelled but the family in question has asked that penalties added onto the regular tax bill be waived.
“The ratepayer has paid $6,300.97 in taxes to remove the property from tax sale and is in the process of taking over the parcel from his brother,” stated Cassidy’s report.
“His brother inherited the property from his dad and has had some difficulty over the past few years, falling into financial hardship and depression.
The ratepayer was unaware that his brother had not paid the property taxes. He accepts the property tax debt and asks if council would consider relief on the penalty accrued over the years to reduce the impact of this unexpected burden.
“In council’s consideration, please take into account all the companies, businesses and individuals in the municipality that are feeling the same effects from COVID and the economic downturn in their decision since there maybe other ratepayers to follow lobbying with similar request based on the outcome of this decision.
“Not just during these trying times the county looks at the equality and fairness to all ratepayers,” added Cassidy.
She noted in her report the Municipal Government Act (MGA) gives councillors the authority to waive the penalties if they wish, and Cassidy also noted that financial implications meant, “loss of revenue in the amount of $1,305.70 based on penalty accrued from 2017 – 2020.”
Coun. Dave Grover was opposed to waiving the penalties. He stated that if you do it for one person, you have to do it for everyone, and he himself has actually had tax penalties and he had to pay them.
A motion to waive the penalties was unanimously defeated by council.
Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative reporter