Late tax payment penalty changes
Late tax payment penalties for Rocky View County (RVC) residents could look a little different in the coming year, after council decided on a revised structure for calculating tax penalties at their last meeting.
Instead of being charged a 12 per cent penalty in July and January for not paying property taxes, a new penalty structure will apply a four per cent penalty on July 1, Sept. 1, and Nov 1, followed by 12 per cent on Jan. 1.
Barry Woods, RVC’s manager of financial services, told council on June 14 the County is required to make large requisition payments throughout the year and to stay cash-flow positive, it is imperative that funds be collected in a timely manner.
Division 6 Coun. Sunny Samra disagreed with using the penalties as a revenue source.
Administration explained that they would prefer everyone to pay on time, but that they must consider the historical record of penalties when it comes to budgeting.
Woods went on to say the County has no choice but to pay its bills on time, and falls short if property taxes have not been collected in a timely manner.
Revenue budgets were developed for the 2023 operating plan with $900,000 budgeted for the 2023 year derived from a 12 per cent penalty on July 1 and Jan. 1.
“It is anticipated that the Jan. 1 penalty of 12 per cent will remain intact on all outstanding charges. Any changes to the penalty structure will have an effect on the 2023 budget,” Woods said.
With a penalty structure of four per cent applied on July 1, Sept. 1, and Nov. 1, RVC calculates a $483,629 shortfall on the revenue budgeted for 2023.
Looking back at previous tax payment deadlines, 2,120 residents did not meet the July 1, 2021 deadline, while another 1,360 residents did not meet the Jan. 1, 2022 deadline. Woods added these numbers were consistent with figures over the past two years.
Division 4 Coun. Samanntha Wright felt a two per cent penalty three times per year should be enough incentive to have people pay their taxes and also would allow some grace to those who did not pay their taxes in error. Calling the current 12 per cent penalty “harsh”, she said if people are first charged a two per cent penalty, the number of penalty cancellation requests may decrease.
Division 3 councillor and deputy mayor Crystal Kissel said this gives RVC residents three options to pay before Jan. 1.
“If that doesn’t encourage you, you’re just not paying your taxes and I don’t think that will change for that person,” Kissel said.
While some councillors viewed this as the right option to get people to pay, Division 5 Coun. Greg Boehlke felt this was more of a financing plan for residents.
Langdon Library application capital cost
A letter of support for the Langdon Library Society’s grant application is being prepared by RVC to assist with capital costs related to the Langdon Library portion of the joint project with the Langdon Community Association for the youth centre.
The letter of support from RVC, the facilities’ land owner, was a requirement in the grant application to the provincial Community Facility Enhancement Program (CFEP) in applying for $20,000 to assist with capital costs.
RVC recognized library services as a need in the hamlet of Langdon and identified it as a proposed amenity of the future Langdon Recreation Centre.
After working since early 2021 to find a viable location for a library in Langdon, a multi-purpose library and youth centre was proposed as an equal cost-sharing collaboration between the Langdon Library Society and Langdon Community Association.
This facility also addresses the hamlet’s lack of indoor community space.
The society’s portion of funding from RVC was approved recently by council on April 5.
Mosquito Control Program
A report on RVC’s mosquito program was received by council on June 14, with no decision made to fund the program.
In the past, RVC conducted a mosquito control program in the hamlet of Langdon since 2012 and the community of Church Ranches since 2017.
According to Jeff Fleischer, RVC’s acting manager of agricultural and environmental services, members of both those communities are aware there is no funding for the program this year. He added the community association of Church Ranches and the majority of residents continue controlling larval mosquitoes on community lands and private property.
RVC staff conducted a survey on the mosquito issues and management within community associations across the county and surveyed 49 community associations, Fleischer said.
“Administration received six responses from the survey; two communities expressed they have had mosquito issues in previous years, and four suggested there were no issues,” Fleischer reported to council. “One of those impacted communities also indicated the residents have completed control programs on private properties in previous years.”
In his report he stated previous dry conditions would mean a minor impact from mosquitos, but with the recent rainfall across south-central Alberta, mosquito habitats will certainly increase in 2022.
In the past, a contractor monitored the larval mosquito population in Langdon and Church Ranches annually from May to September.
If mosquito larvae numbers were above threshold levels, the contractor would begin a larviciding control program within the area boundaries, which reduced the future presence of high adult mosquito populations.
A motion to amend the 2022 Draft Operating budget to include $52,000 for mosquito control expenditures for the hamlet of Langdon and the community of Church Ranches, to be funded by property taxes, was previously tabled on Jan. 17.
Fleischer said due to the motion being tabled at that January meeting, the funding for the program was not made available in the 2022 budget.