County of Paintearth writes off $282,000 in linear taxes

Written by ECA Review

County of Paintearth council passed several motions writing off individual tax rolls from bankrupt oil and gas companies at the latest meeting Nov. 16.

In order to receive the Provincial Education Requisition Credit (PERC) which provides municipalities with an education property tax credit equal to the uncollectable education property taxes on delinquent oil and gas properties, the taxes of these properties must be written off.

Initially introduced to provide relief to municipalities for the 2015 through 2019 tax years, the program has been extended for two more years as the tax recovery challenges continue.

In total, $282,921.29 was written off this year, making the county eligible for $24,632.88 from PERC.

In comparison to last year’s numbers, Roth explained the county had an even steeper cut of approximately $525,000 in oil and gas taxes written off.

Roth shared that the best plan to approach these companies is to continue communication, adding that the county is reaching the end of writing off this much in taxes as they get caught up from former years.

She added that the county is also at 95 per cent collection rate for all taxes which is much higher than other municipalities

“Overall that is quite a high collection rate this year,” said Roth.

Water Hauling Prospectus

Cathy Goulet, Carleen Sieben and Bobbi-Sue Menard of the Killick Leadership group made a virtual presentation on the possibility of fronting a water hauling company within the County of Paintearth.

This has come to surface as residents have shared they wish to receive this type of service.

Killick was tasked with identifying a number of factors to determine whether this potential business was viable and why current providers hardly operate in the area.

The main competition the group identified was a water main line connection but with its own pros and cons being good service but an unwillingness from the municipality to put one in for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Goulet and Menard also pointed out that residents, although keen on a new system, do not wish to pay for what they classify as a premium service.

Residents currently get water through their own effort at water depots throughout Paintearth. 

Research shows they do not particularly like the arrangement. And, they have not liked it for quite some time. Several hundred households manage their water requirements through this system.

They looked at background studies and surveys, new resident surveys, interviewed three hauling water operators in comparable markets (Stettler, Provost, Beaver County), market analysis and alternate approaches to water delivery.

When reviewing community surveys conducted in 2015 and 2018, Menard found that it was ‘interesting’ that people feel strongly about water as it falls at the intersection between public good and privately valued but “payment options are a challenge that converts their want into a reality.”

A survey was done this year but there were only 11 responses noting not enough strong engagement to utilize.

In short, Killick determined a water hauling service would be viable but a precise hauling schedule and route would be ‘critical’.

Council accepted this report as information.

Through this report Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Michael Simpson shared that they learned that “while water is a precious resource, there’s a pain point for consumers who don’t want to pay to have it hauled. Not all, but some. 

Others don’t haul as much as we’d thought, and still others think the County should be paying the cost for the water hauling to the private residences.”

The county’s position on this is that it is not a mandated service in a rural setting, it’s optional as cisterns and wells are other options for water.

“We see that there are a pair of companies in Paintearth that haul it part time, and it’s more of an inner-circle thing,” he continued. 

“There could be room for their businesses to grow if they looked at the data, which we will also make available to them. 

“We were able to speak to one of those operators to confirm their arrangement.

“We don’t see this report as the step to taking that additional income from them, but we hope this helps them make guided business decisions on their current service delivery models. Perhaps there are ways they can grow their business and perhaps this prospectus can help with that. 

Ultimately, it’s up to the entrepreneur to decide how to recognize value for this information.”

Garden Plain update

The Construction Team from TransAlta consisting of Jeff Nelson and Blake Krassilowsky visited council chambers to discuss progress of the Garden Plain wind turbine project located between Castor and Hanna.

The Calgary based company shared they own 100 per cent of the project and are the prime contractor looking after safety and so on.

The project has a crew between seven and 15 operators and they have plans to become fully operational by December of 2022.

TransAlta broke ground on Oct. 12.

“We picked the right place for wind,” said Nelson as he described a desire for calmer wind speeds to easily construct.

Once completed, the company will transfer to the operations team from construction who will operate the asset.

The Garden Plains wind project received approval from the Alberta Utilities Commission in May of 2019.

Since then, a few adjustments have been made to reduce the impact area of the site and implement higher generation output which ultimately reduces the number of turbine towers to 26 due to advancing technology in this space.

In-camera session

Council met with Halkirk Mayor Roy Bedford in a closed session meeting to discuss Halkirk’s Viability Review.

The conversation lasted half an hour.

Currently, the Government of Alberta has Halkirk under a viability review which determines whether or not a community can continue on its own financially.

No motions came from this conversation.

 

Terri Huxley

ECA Review

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ECA Review

The East Central Alberta Review (ECA Review), formerly known as the Coronation Review, is a newspaper that services 28,000+ homes each week.