Tax penalty reduction Bylaw passes First Reading

by Tristan Turner
Morinville News Staff

The First Reading of a revised bylaw proposed by Councillor Stephen Dafoe on reducing penalties for late property tax payers passed unanimously at Council’s regular meeting Apr. 11.

The Town’s 22-year-old Unpaid Property Tax Penalty Bylaw levies 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 bylaw’s revision would chop the fees for late payers in half, down to 7.5 percent for taxes not paid by June 30 and an additional 9 per cent on balances not paid by Dec. 31.

Dafoe made the motion arguing that it was in “light of our difficult economic times.” He went on to argue that many people are still unemployed from the financial downturn and could use some relief from the Town.

This bylaw comes following Dafoe’s motion at the last Council meeting for administration to come forward with information on what other communities charge and options to reduce late tax penalties.

When first proposed, CAO Andrew Isbister suggested he could bring forward an additional proposal that would allow the CAO to reduce tax penalties to residents on a case-by-case basis when a resident asks for relief. But Isbister reported to Council Apr. 11 that the Alberta Municipal Governance Act (MGA) gives Council and only Council the power to provide tax relief.

Chief Financial Office Shawna Jason reported to Council the proposed changes would bring the Town’s rates in line with nearby communities, which typically levy late tax penalties between 3 per cent and 12 percent.

Second and potentially Third Reading of the Bylaw is expected to come forward on Apr. 25 at the next meeting of Council.

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