Stettler County council waives almost $170,000 in property tax penalties

The County of Stettler council waived almost $ 170,000 in penalties linked to unpaid property taxes. The decisions were made during a special “closed session” council meeting April 20.

On the agenda of the special council meeting were five items described along with the section of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy (FOIP) laws which forced the items to be discussed only in “closed session.”

In a closed session meeting, only councillors, Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Yvette Cassidy and invited guests are allowed to attend; however, no resolutions are allowed, which can only be made after the closed session reverts to an open meeting.

The agenda listed the following items: Offer to Purchase Lands (FOIPPA Section 25: Disclosure harmful to economic and other interests of a public body); Tax Forgiveness (FOIPPA Section 16: Disclosure harmful to the business interests of a third party); Tax Forgiveness (FOIPPA Section 16: Disclosure harmful to the business interests of a third party); Gravel Pit Rental Renegotiation (FOIPPA Section 25: Disclosure harmful to economic and other interests of a public body); and Doctor Recruitment (FOIPPA Section 23: Local Body Confidences).

Councillors elected to move into closed session at 9:35 a.m. according to the minutes approved at the May 12 regular council meeting. They remained in closed session until 11:32 a.m. according to the same minutes.

The first item, offer to purchase lands, was resolved thusly: Moved by Coun. James Nibourg “That the County of Stettler No. 6 council instruct administration to proceed with the offer to purchase land, as presented.”

That motion passed unanimously.

The second item, tax forgiveness, was handled thusly: Moved by Coun. Les Stulberg “That the County of Stettler No. 6 hereby enter into a formal tax repayment agreement for tax rolls 797903, 797909, 797920, 799531, 799896 and 862500, meeting the following criteria: The County of Stettler shall cancel penalties in arrears in the amount of $ 67,510.74 and shall cancel the February 2021 penalty in the amount of $ 49,937.92.

“The County of Stettler shall waive all future interest and future penalties on the foregoing amounts provided that the ratepayer satisfies the proposed payment schedule (as follows):

“The ratepayer shall repay the outstanding taxes in the amount of $ 556,600.74 with the payment schedule as follows:

“Ratepayer would pay $ 10,000 by the end of April, May and June, 2021; Ratepayer would pay $ 15,000 per month beginning in July, 2021 with the final outstanding amounts payment in June, 2024.

“Ratepayer would also pay tax on the current levies for the years 2021, 2022 and 2023 in the 12 monthly instalments without interest in addition to the payments set out above.

Payments will start in the month the agreement is reached.”

The motion passed by a 6 to 1 vote, Coun. Nibourg opposed.

The second tax forgiveness request was handled thusly: Moved by Coun. Wayne Nixon “that the County of Stettler No. 6 council hereby enter into a formal tax repayment agreement for tax rolls 795924, 795925, 796977 and 864112, meeting the following criteria: The County of Stettler shall cancel penalties in arrears in the amount of $ 35,816.82 and shall cancel the February 2021 penalty in the amount of $ 14,792.59.

“The County of Stettler shall waive all penalties on the foregoing amounts provided that the ratepayer satisfies the proposed payment schedule as presented.

“The ratepayer shall repay the outstanding taxes in the amount of $ 121,112.76 with the payment schedule as presented, noting the 2021 taxes are estimated at this time.”

This also passed by a 6 to 1 vote, Coun. Dave Grover opposed.

The gravel pit renegotiation item was resolved thusly: Moved by Coun. Nibourg “that the County of Stettler No. 6 council instruct administration to move forward with the gravel pit rental renegotiation item as per in-camera instruction.”

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This was approved unanimously.

The doctor recruitment item was resolved thusly: Moved by Coun. Nibourg “that the County of Stettler No. 6 council accept the doctor recruitment item for information.” This was approved unanimously.

It should be noted that the special council meeting items were originally on the agenda of the April regular council meeting but were tabled for discussion at a later date.

TORONTO STAR