(File photo)

(File photo)

Town of Stettler council denies request to drop tax penalty

Stettler’s town council received a tax pardon request during its July 19 meeting.

In the request, a Stettler ratepayer recounted how they had been out of the province since May and had intended on being back in Stettler on June 30.

However, due to the ongoing issues with flights at the moment, the resident was unable to arrive home until July 1. The resident further noted that he was unsure whether the due date for taxes this year was back to June or if it was still in October and when he had called the town office, no one was able to give him an answer.

The resident paid his tax bill the following Monday morning, however, not the amount including the penalty which was added past the June 30 deadline.

“Council can rebate taxes if it is equitable to do so,” said chief administrative officer Greg Switenky.

Switenky also noted that around ten other ratepayers also came in to pay their taxes the week after they were due, and if they were to do the one would it be fair to the rest?

Coun. Wayne Smith wasn’t sympathetic to the ratepayer.

“I have little sympathy for someone planning to pay on the last day, then them having something go wrong,” Smith said.

“If we were to forgive this, this is a very public forgiveness. If it was me, personally, I would forgive it. But, on the public record, if we forgive this one, we’re going to have to forgive many others.”

Mayor Sean Nolls agreed, noting that to approve it would be setting a “dangerous precedent.”

Coun. Gord Lawlor commented that he empathised with the situation the ratepayer is in, however he noted that the tax deadline was well advertised and the town had spent a considerable amount of money setting up online payments so that taxes “can be paid anywhere on the globe.”

The total amount of the penalty applied to taxes after the June 30 deadline is three per cent, which in the case of this ratepayer worked out to just under $84.

Attached in the council request for decision was a full listing of where the tax deadline was advertised.

The deadline was advertised five times on Facebook between May and June. It was further advertised twice on the town’s mobile app in the same time period.

Between June 1 and 14 the deadline was advertised on 13 different community screens around the community, the June 10 Town of Stettler utility bill, on the radio 15 times between June 8 and 29,as well as the East Central Alberta Review, the Stettler Independent.

Ultimately Coun. Wayne Smith motioned to deny the penalty pardon, with Coun. Kurt Baker being the sole councillor voting against the motion.

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