by Tristan Turner
Morinville News Correspondent
A bylaw unanimously passed by Councillor Stephen Dafoe cut penalties for late property tax payers in half at Council’s Apr. 25 meeting. The Bylaw passed Second and Third Reading that night, following the passing of First Reading on Apr. 11.
The Town’s 22-year-old Unpaid Property Tax Penalty Bylaw levied a 15 per cent penalty on taxes not paid by June 30 and an 18 per cent penalty on property tax balances not paid by Dec. 31.
The changes under the new law chop the fees for late payers in half, down to 7.5 percent for taxes not paid by June 30 and 9 per cent on those not paid by Dec. 31.
Dafoe made the original motion at Council’s Apr. 11 meeting, saying then that is was made: “ in light of our difficult economic times.” He went on to argue that many people are still recovering from the financial downturn and could use some relief from the Town.
Under the Alberta Municipal Governance Act, only Council can reduce or wave tax penalties.
Chief Financial Office Shawna Jason reported to Council that while the reduction in penalty percentages would reduce revenues by approximately $75,000, the changes would bring the Town’s rates in line with nearby communities, which are typically between 3 per cent and 12 percent.
Councillor Brennan FitzGerald commented the former penalties were “a big surprise to me when I saw how much higher [our penalties are] than the rest of the region.” FitzGerald added that he was happy to support the legislation.
Councillors Boutestein and Turner offered brief comments of support.
Second and Third Reading passed unanimously with nearly no debate.