Paintearth County councillors agreed a letter should be sent to Alberta Energy Regulator (AER)with concerns with the AER issuing licenses free and clear when, in fact, taxes are in arrears.
According to County Administration, over the last year the County has received notice of the purchase of many oil and gas properties and have recently noticed an increase in push backs from industry regarding paying the tax arrears on properties they are purchasing.
Administration has been in contact with Municipal Affairs who advised this was a contentious issue as apparently the AER has been issuing the purchases free and clear and the licenses may also state that they are free and clear of all tax arrears.
The report also went on to say that County Administration had also been provided with a purchase agreement where the company had received a court order stating they [new owners] were not responsible to pay the arrears taxes on the properties they were purchasing.
Municipal Affairs explained that it seemed larger companies were paying the outstanding taxes while smaller companies were not.
The unpaid taxes become a burden on the municipality and ratepayers as the school taxes and seniors foundation taxes must still be paid to the government, as well as the negative the affect on tax revenues for the County.
Council will also put forward a resolution to the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties (AAMCC) meeting this fall.
“You can’t even get a driver’s licence without paying your child support,” said Doreen Blumhagen, “or speeding tickets”.
“Just curious, it would be interesting to see what would happen if this municipality took a stand and refused to pay the education taxes [that the AER writes off].
Maybe we should get this inequity brought to the forefront and not pay the requisitions to the government.
“Nobody has ever taken a stand,” said Blumhagen.
“It would shed a lot of light on the issue.”
“I don’t know if they would, but they could remove you as a council”, said CAO Tarolyn Aaserud.
“Municipalities have to get the status of ‘first rights’ said Coun. Dalmer.
County council holds firm with their penalties for missing the deadline for tax payments on a 5 – 1 vote with one abstaining.
A request to reverse the penalty charges on a tax bill came from a ratepayer who had got busy and didn’t get the cheque for taxes dropped off on June 30, then hand-delivered it July 4.
Would we consider a reduction [in the five per cent penalty]? asked Coun. Rocky Dahmer.
“If we give him a reduction, we’ll have a whole slug of them [requests],” stated Brian Bunbury.
Another request from an unnamed company who had recently acquired eight properties, asked that their 2017 taxes be paid over a period of two years, was denied by council as it would be precedent setting and other ratepayers would be making the same requests.
County council agreed to provide up to $3,500 in gravel, hauling and spreading at the Halkirk rodeo grounds prior to their bullarama with monies from Restricted Surplus.
Jeff Cosens, director of environmental services reported requests he had received for ‘no spray zones’ when it comes to cutting and spraying ditches which presently is not part of the policy.
Council motioned to re-affirm that they would continue with maintaining a policy that does not include a ‘no spray zone’ to alleviate other problems that arise.
“We’ll get more responses if we don’t mow the grass, than mowing it,” said George Glazier.
Following an 10-minute in-camera meeting with Insp. Darcy McGunnigal, council approved a motion to pay an additional $2920 for an additional three hours per week for administration staff at the detachment.