Stettler County

Stettler County

Stettler county to waive ratepayer tax penalties

The waiver was due to an administration error

After an error on the part of administration, Stettler County council has agreed to waive penalties applied to a ratepayer’s 2021 property taxes. They made the decision during the Nov. 15 council meeting.

Issues arose in 2021 when the ratepayer attended the county offices in the fall of that year to inquire what his property taxes were. The staff looked up what he was owed, he was told, he paid and then went on his way.

Unfortunately, due to another ratepayer paying their taxes online and crediting the wrong tax roll, the number the ratepayer was given was incorrect, and he in fact owed more.

Staff corrected the system error, and sent a letter to the ratepayer’s address on file, letting him know he owed an additional $466. Because of the county’s error, the ratepayer was not assessed a penalty when the balance was not caught up by the Nov. 1, 2021, deadline.

However, when the balance had not been caught up by the February penalty date and no correspondence had been received from the ratepayer, the penalty was applied to the account.

According to county staff, prior to the error, the taxes on the property had hovered consistently around the $850 per year mark.

Finally, in the summer of 2022, county administration made contact with the ratepayer, who provided an updated address and also indicated that he had not received any of the county’s prior correspondence.

He paid just over $1,000 to go towards his 2022 taxes, and submitted a request to council that the $466 and the outstanding penalties for 2021 be waived due to the county’s error.

Councillor Les Stulberg appeared sympathetic to the ratepayer’s request.

“I stand firmly that wrong addresses don’t matter,” said Coun. Les Stulberg.

“Taxes are due … in this case, the person comes each year, and the mistake wasn’t his. He paid the full amount on his invoice.”

Others on council were less so.

“Yes, there was an error that the county made,” said Coun. Justin Stevens.

“But, to be surprised that his taxes were virtually cut in half after four years of consistency? Fairness would be waiving the penalties but not taxes owing.”

Coun. James Nibourg noted he agreed with Stevens.

“Pretty much everyone knows what they owe in taxes down to $100,” said Nibourg.

Reeve Clarke, agreed as well, noting that the “tax is due.”

Ultimately, in a motion put forward by Stulberg, council voted to waive the penalties, but not the outstanding taxes of $466.

Coun. Nibourg noted that, if required, he would be willing for administration to enter into a payment agreement with the ratepayer if the $466 was going to be a hardship.

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