Another Stettler County council meeting, another meeting where oil and gas taxes are written off.
During the Jan. 11 county council meeting, councillors were faced with writing off nearly $4.9 million in oil and gas taxes dating back to 2018.
With the exception of two tax rolls belonging to a numbered company, the bulk back-taxes was from the now defunct Trident Exploration.
Stettler county council, along with many other municipal councils across the province, is not impressed with the situation.
“(It’s a) bitter pill to swallow to write off almost $5 million in taxes,” said Coun. Les Stulberg.
Stulberg’s colleague, James Nibourg, agreed.
“My blood boils when I go over this … the Government of Alberta needs to do something about these bad actors. Bad (companies) give such a bad name to the good ones.”
Coun. Justin Stevens also agreed, noting that the number doesn’t paint a true picture of the damage done in the community. He noted that not only is the county not getting its taxes, but in a lot of cases oilfield service companies are left with outstanding bills left unpaid as well.
As municipalities have been deemed unsecured creditors, there is no recourse for them to go after the companies that go into forfeiture.
“It’s on us to get on the government and let them know this can’t happen,” said Reeve Larry Clarke.
The only piece of good news coming out of the tax write-offs is the Provincial Education Requisition Credit (PERC).
When the province calculates education requisitions every year, it does so based on the assessed taxes in the given municipalities. When the oil and gas taxes are written off, municipalities can apply for PERC which gives them a portion of the education requisition back.
“This stinks,” said Coun. Dave Grover. “I’m going to hold my nose and vote for it, just so we can get our education back.”
A motion to write off the $4.9 million by Stulberg was carried.