Ponoka County faces potential loss in overdue taxes

Due to a struggling economy, Ponoka County is looking at a potential loss of $500,000 in unpaid taxes.

Due to a struggling economy, Ponoka County is looking at a potential loss of $500,000 in unpaid taxes.

Council heard during their regular meeting Tuesday, March 8 that the county is budgeting for the potential loss in back taxes from a company in receivership.

Accountant Tim Rowland of Rowland, Parker and Associates said there were other companies in the same situation. “There are a few that are having trouble paying right now.”

While the county has received correspondence from one company intending to pay $440,000 in back taxes over a period of time, Cutforth says they need to prepare for the chance that payments will not be forthcoming. Covering the amount from the company’s assets remains a question.

Cutforth said the company has $35 million in assets while it owes $20 million. But liquidating the difference is doubtful. One of the issues is converting an asset such as a building into dollars; or if taxable equipment sits on another person’s property, collecting that equipment adds to the difficulty, said Cutforth.

“Thankfully we’re in a decent position to absorb it,” he added.

Money will be transferred from the county’s $3 million surplus.

Reeve Paul McLauchlin suggests this issue is going to continue across the province. Some counties in Alberta receive 90 per cent of their revenue from commercial taxes, which shows the risk they face, he added.

Recuperating back taxes is also in question. Cutforth feels the county should speak with the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties. Rather than speak individually as counties with law firms on the legal challenges, Cutforth feels the municipalities can group together to find a solution.

Rowland said the county could seize a company’s assets but there is a short period of time that is allowed.

“We’ll know in another month or so where we stand,” added Rowland.

No decisions were made at the meeting as it was part of a budget update.

County approves rezoning request

A request to rezone land near Rimbey was approved by county council.

The request came from Ryan and Jean Keetch to reclassify 161-acres to country residential from agricultural. “We would like to keep it in the family,” said Jean.

She told councillors that the land is not suitable for farming and splitting it would help her family manage the land. Neighbour Adolph Adam raised some concerns about the potential of dogs in the area. He said there is quite a bit of wildlife in the area and further developments might see dogs that would also disrupt cattle he has grazing in the area.

His wife Lillian added her discomfort about the boundary lines of the properties and where they would sit considering a river in the area. McLacuhlin said Alberta Environment would most-likely be involved once the subdivision process begins.

Jean said there are no plans to stop any agriculture process on land that is ideal for farming.

Council approved the request.