A request to forgive $62,000 in tax bills and penalties was declined.
Town of Ponoka council heard from property owner Eric Schmidt Aug. 8 during the regular meeting. For Schmidt’s part, he feels forgiving the tax bill would be an acknowledgement of the research his company has done related to thermal hydrolysis and organic filters developed over the years.
Schmidt took some time to discuss what his research company has done and how it has helped the meat processing industry. In a letter to the town, Schmidt states that, “The maturity of these R&D efforts now provides an opportunity for this plant to be repurposed as a food manufacturing facility, which would be its highest value use since building a new health approved plant is a very costly regulatory journey,” states the letter.
For council, the high amount of taxes and penalties was a cause for concern. “This is a significant amount of money,” offered Coun. Teri Underhill.
Schmidt also added a promise to move all his research to Ponoka.
Coun. Marc Yaworski suggested that the request to forgive taxes, with a promise of more work in Ponoka is a different conversation.
It was heard that Schmidt’s company did pay enough of the taxes to ensure there was no caveat added to the property. The 2017 annual levy was $9,573.
Council did meet in camera to discuss Schmidt donating some of his land to the town. The donation is for a portion of the property across from where the learning centre will be built.
It will make up parking for the centre and is valued at $110,000. Council approved the motion to accept the donation, which will also address $7,000 of the balance owing in unpaid property taxes.
A case of mistaken addresses
Council declined a request to forgive penalties for $766 for two properties owned by one person.
A letter from Craig Paterson states that he did not receive his 2016 property taxes but for some reason Christopher Noble had. The two gentlemen do own properties together but not the two in this situation.
In the letter Paterson offers that Noble opened up the letters by accident and then realized they did not belong to him. He subsequently brought the notices to Town Hall.
“Mr. Noble was advised that the tax notice would be sent out again to the proper address and Mr. Noble thought that was the end of the matter. However, in the intervening time, I never received the tax notice on either of the properties for 2016,” states the letter.
Paterson says Noble received the 2017 notices and then brought them to him.
According to administration’s preamble, the audit trail records show the address was changed June 17, 2016 to an incomplete address of “4408 43,” which was invalid. It was changed back to the correct address June 20, 2016.
Mayor Rick Bonnett and Coun. Tim Falkiner voted in favour of the request, which was defeated.
Other penalty waiver requests
A request from Teju Abolarin to waive penalties of $210 was declined.
A letter from Abolarin states that they had set up a pre-authorized utilities account and assumed taxes would come out of that account. The property taxes were paid in full on July 19.
Mayor Rick Bonnett voted in favour of the request but was outvoted.
Death in the family
Council forgave a tax penalty of $161 after hearing the property owner passed away.
Council heard that the owner died suddenly on June 26 and the sister had to manage the accounts, which took some time.
Taxes paid to Red Deer County
A resident mistakenly switched their tax payments between the town and Red Deer County.
A letter from Shawna Hainsworth states that as soon as she realized the mistake she worked to rectify it. The tax penalty of $415 was forgiven with Coun. Carla Prediger opposed.