The County of Stettler has approved one request for tax penalty cancellation while denying another during the Nov. 15 council meeting.
In the first of the tax penalty requests, the ratepayer notified the county that they had mailed a cheque from a rural mailbox in the middle of October, however, the county never received it.
“None of their cheques (mailed) had reached their destinations,” said Sharon Larsen, who presented the request for council decision (RCD) to council.
“They are looking for their cheques and mail through the postal system. They believe the box had been broken into and the cheques taken.”
Larsen noted that since discovering the cheques hadn’t arrived, the ratepayer in question had already re-issued them and administration’s recommendation was to waive the late payment fees which were applied to the account effective Nov. 1.
“This is quite extraordinary,” said Coun. James Nibourg, who noted that due to the “extenuating circumstances,” he believed the fee should be waived.
Nibourg’s sentiment was shared by another councillor, Les Stulberg.
“I have a problem with sometimes forgiving taxes, but this is totally different,” noted Stulberg.
“I am actually in support of Coun. Nibourg’s motion. If they mailed it, it’s not their fault.”
Reeve Larry Clarke agreed that the circumstances were extenuating, but noted that going forward more should be done to encourage other forms of payment.
“I actually can’t believe we’re still mailing out of those boxes,” said Clarke.
Administration noted that in a subsequent County Connection newsletter, a stuffer would be added encouraging ratepayers to pay taxes another way, and not mail from the rural mailboxes.
The second tax penalty waiver council discussed consisted of a two-part issue.
In the first part, a ratepayer had mistakenly paid — insufficiently — on their business tax roll instead of their personal tax roll, and when Larsen reached out to discuss the issue, the ratepayer noted that the error had been made, but also they had never received their business tax statement which had been sent in June.
Larsen noted that tax notices are deemed received seven days from when they are mailed unless the issuing body is contacted otherwise.
According to Larsen, upon investigation, the business tax roll had been rejected by the post office and returned to sender. Because it was a numbered company, no further investigation was done.
Once the personal taxes had been paid, at the same address as the numbered account, the ratepayer paid the outstanding taxes at the beginning of November, however, were requesting forgiveness of the approximate $180 penalty which had been applied.
“This one is a little different for me,” said Nibourg.
“I know my taxes are coming up. It’s not something I generally would have forgotten about.”
Larsen also noted that the county did undergo an advertising campaign to inform ratepayers that if they had not received their tax assessments, to contact the county office.
“If you received one, you know the second one is coming,” said Coun. Ernie Gendre, motioning to not approve the penalty relief.
The motion carried.