Kneehill County council continues tax aid for gas co-ops

Written by Stu Salkeld

Kneehill County council continued their policy of providing tax relief to local gas co-ops but seemed a bit perturbed by providing tax relief at the same time to the provincial government. The resolutions were passed at the Sept. 26 regular meeting of council.

Councillors heard a presentation from Rajeana Nyman, property tax officer, regarding two annual property tax cancellations: one for the local gas co-ops and one for the Government of Alberta.

“In June 2016, council approved Policy #16-15 that gave the direction to cancel taxes to the gas co-ops operating within the borders of Kneehill County,” stated Nyman’s report. “The tax amounts for the gas co-op are brought forward to council annually for cancellation.” Her report listed 12 tax rolls connected to the gas co-ops that totalled $3,438.81.
Nyman also presented information about the single Government of Alberta tax roll and how that property tax bill is handled.

“Properties belonging to the Government of Alberta are exempt from municipal taxation,” she stated in her report to council. “To account for this, municipalities are paid a grant in place of taxes (GIPOT) on eligible properties within their boundaries. This is a discretionary grant program and not a tax payment.

The county has one property that this applies to, roll # 30211533000.

“In October 2019 the province reduced funding for the GIPOT and directed municipalities to issue their normal tax bill for such properties, and municipalities would receive reimbursement for 50 per cent of the eligible amount.

Following this provincial change, the remaining tax bill has been brought forward to council for cancellation annually.”

Nyman noted in her report tax roll # 30211533000 has an annual total of $718.32, half of which adds up to $359.16.

Coun. Ken King stated he acknowledged the policy of tax cancellation was put in place to aid the gas co-ops while also noting he didn’t necessarily want to help the Government of Alberta in this way but there was an agreement in place to honour.

Councillors unanimously approved a resolution to cancel the tax bills as discussed, with Reeve Jerry Wittstock apparently agreeing with King by adding that resolution was made “reluctantly.”

However, Wittstock added Kneehill County knows that helping the gas co-ops also helps Kneehill residents in the long run.

Payment plan in place
Nyman also presented councillors with the edited residential tax arrears payment plan. She noted the payment plan bylaw allows for residential property owners to pay off a tax debt over time, and that the bylaw passed first and second reading at a previous meeting. Nyman also noted council requested it be made very clear in the bylaw the program was for residential properties only.

Nyman confirmed that distinction was made and the bylaw was ready for final approval. Councillors unanimously passed third reading.

Tax penalty tweak
Nyman next presented councillors with proposed bylaw #1809, tax penalty bylaw, which she noted was a revised and updated bylaw which places penalties on late tax payments. Nyman stated the existing bylaw was approved almost 20 years ago.

The annual tax penalty on unpaid rolls remains 24 per cent, but the dates penalties are applied changed in the proposed bylaw to align better with what other municipalities do.

Coun. King pointed out the municipality does not intend to make profit on overdue taxes, but he also asked if the changes could result in less revenue for Kneehill County. Nyman stated staff were not expecting a huge drop in revenue.

Councillors passed all readings necessary to approve the bylaw, but it was noted this bylaw will not come into effect until Jan. 1, 2024.

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.