Castor town council recently reached a decision regarding the process for sending out tax notices, opting to keep the existing system unchanged, at their June 26 meeting.
During the regular June 12 meeting, Castor resident Michael Courtney spoke to the council regarding relief from tax arrears penalties. During the meeting, Courtney told the council that he and Karen Simpson would have been to the town office as soon as they knew they had not paid their taxes; however, they thought they had paid them.
Courtney and Simpson have been given two 15 per cent penalties after missing the initial payment and the second deadline.
Courtney requested the council decide on the penalties and the process for sending out tax notices when payment is missed.
The Town of Castor gives a general reminder of tax penalty dates in arrears on social media, in the town newsletter, and on the taxes.
During the June 26 meeting council brought up the issue of tax penalties. Administration created a chart of which municipalities send out notices before a penalty is applied. Some municipalities send out notifications, while others do not.
“Are we going to talk about a blanket to everyone? Or are we going to ask administration to go through and find the ones in arrears and then send that?” Mayor Richard Elhard asked the council what they would want to do if they were going to send notices.
Council had discussed different options on what to do regarding the issue and how much work it would be for administration, and the cost of adding a new program to their computers.
The council’s biggest problem was determining the best route and how much it would cost the town.
“I just feel it should stay the same,” said Deputy Mayor Trudy Kilner. “It’s put on notices, it’s put on our taxes, and it’s going to cost our staff. Everything is an expense.”
While some councillors agreed with Kilner’s points, Coun. Shawn Peach said if there was a way to ‘computer generate’ the notices that would be easy, and the courtesy would be worth it.
During the meeting, the council allowed Courtney to address the council once again.
Frustrated, Courtney asked the council how it would cost the town a lot of money to provide phone calls, saying they were less expensive than sending letters.
However, that idea was vetoed as the council thought that having the office call everyone would be too much for them to handle.
“I’m sure in many other cases, in fact, I know in one other case, if we had received notice that our taxes hadn’t been paid, they would have been paid five months ago,” Courtney said.
“Now factor that into your expenses. How much did it cost you not having tax money for five months that you would have had?”
A case like this had happened in the past, and the council did not allow any relief in that case, and it was decided at that point that if they forgive one person, they would have to forgive everyone.
Council also discussed the fact that while some people, if given the chance to pay their taxes would, but there would still be people who do not pay.
Elhard expressed to the council that he believed that the Town of Castor has a good system in place and that it shouldn’t always be the town at fault.
The council voted to keep the system the same by a majority vote.
“Unlike council, I will give you some notice. I’m not going to pay that extra 15 per cent, I feel it is unwarranted…I will pay my taxes plus the 15 per cent penalty that we were late originally for, we are fully accountable for that,” Courtney said frustrated with the decision.
“But I really strongly feel that if we had known about that penalty, it would have been paid before and it would be very unfair, very unjust and not neighbourly, to not give a courtesy call. So if you want to expropriate my home over $600, that’s up to you,” said Courtney.