Tax penalty waiver requests continue

Council continues to hear of tax penalty waiver requests from residents.

Council continues to hear of tax penalty waiver requests from residents.

Two requests came to councillors Sept. 27 during the regular meeting, with one having to pay their penalty and the other being forgiven.

First up was a request from David and Susan Crawford requesting the $125.93 tax penalty be waived due to issues with flooding in the basement. In a letter to the town the Crawfords state that flooding in the basement caused significant damage to their home, something the town was aware of.

“The town knew of this situation and did nothing for three years,” states the letter.

The Crawfords feels the town should pay the damages; one of the reasons they said they were reluctant to pay them. However, a claim to the town’s insurance was denied, continues the letter.

Coun. Carla Prediger asked how the flooding related to paying taxes. Sandra Lund, director of corporate services for the Town of Ponoka, said administration just passed on the information to council for consideration.

The motion to waive the penalty was defeated with Mayor Rick Bonnett speaking in favour of a waiver.

The second request came from Diane Hart for tax penalties in the amount of $183.05.

She states in a letter that she would not be paying the penalty due to receiving her tax bill late in August. In 2015 the death of her husband caused a need to change ownership, which she informed the town of. “I will not be paying this as I was already in the Town of Ponoka office last year and was directed to wait until my bill came in the mail.”

Prediger asked if the town has proof that the bills make it to their destinations. It appears that the town makes a declaration that tax notices are mailed out, something that is required of municipalities.

“We’ve got the same address that we had in the system before,” explained Lund.

Council voted in favour of waiving the penalties with Prediger and Coun. Loanna Gulka against.

Bringing a request back

During council’s Sept. 13 meeting one tax penalty waiver request that was defeated will be coming back for consideration.

William Dillen of WilPro Industries, spoke to council during the Sept. 27 public forum portion of the meeting asking council to reconsider the decision. The properties, said Dillen, were purchased last fall and he was waiting for information from the town, which he said were never received.

“We have since paid the taxes. We’ve also paid the penalty. We have also set up a prepayment program so this won’t happen again,” said Dillen.

When asked if there were any issues with the sending of the tax bills, Lund said she would research and return with information to council.

Dillen said he was told that the notice was not sent to him due to the transfer being done later in the year and once everything was put together they were already past due. “I guess I feel it’s not right that I should pay a penalty due to not getting the notice.”

Prediger feels the town can do better at notifying residents or building owners. “I just somehow think we could be doing something better with regard to tax rolls.”

Coun. Sandra Lyon asked if there is a way to access information online. “We’re one of the few (municipalities) that don’t have the information online.”

Lund replied that administration wants to see a virtual city hall developed and planners are looking at including it in the 2017 budget for the town.

Coun. Teri Underhill made a notice of motion for administration to bring back the WilPro Industries tax penalty waiver request for consideration at the next meeting.