By Treena Mielke
The ink has barely dried on a decision by council to chop a tax incentive program from this year’s budget, and, already they have given the nod to a request by a businessman for a break on his taxes.
In a 3-2 vote, council, at its Sept. 26 meeting, agreed to take $10,000 off of the $24,456.69 municipal tax bill owed by Carey Anderson, owner of Evergreen Estates Ltd. also known as 1027589 Alberta Ltd.
“The tax increase I received this year is approximately up 400 per cent from previous years,” said Anderson in a letter to council. “The extra expense on this subdivision at this point in time is detrimental to the project. It does not seem fair to charge this amount of taxes on bare land that does not generate any income.”
Mayor Sheldon Ibbotson, who voted against giving the tax break along with Coun. Gayle Rondeel, appeared somewhat frustrated by council’s decision.
“We just spent six months going through this,” he said. “This decision ignores the policies that are already in place. It takes away from the force of the policies. Now the public won’t know what to expect.”
Prior to the vote to forgive Anderson a portion of his taxes, Ibbotson and Coun. Joe Anglin argued as to the definition of equitable as stated in the Municipal Government Act.
The act states council, if it considers it equitable to do so, may cancel or reduce tax arrears, cancel or refund all or part of a tax or defer the collection of a tax.
“To me equitable means what is fair for all the taxpayers,” said Ibbotson.
However, Coun. Joe Anglin disagreed.
“Equitable is not standardized, it’s arbitrary. Any court or any tribunal that must adjudicate an equitable decision has to weigh all the evidence which makes every case unique on its own merit.”
Anglin believed Anderson’s request had merit and needed to be dealt with accordingly. “We just took it (the tax incentive program) away. We didn’t allow any transition time.”
Coun. Jack Webb, who originally made the motion to forgive Anderson for half of his tax bill, changed his motion to forgive only $10,000 of the tax, after council agreed that the $24,456.69 bill also included school taxes.
Coun. Gayle Rondeel’s motion to table the request was defeated.
CAO Tony Goode said Anderson may qualify for more dollars under the town’s development contribution policy when he hooks into the town’s sewer services.
Anderson was “very pleased” with council’s decision.
“This year I am finishing the lift station which is a large expense. The town will also benefit from this subdivision in the end. All I am asking for is more time with the reduced tax rate until I can recover from this economic hardship.”
Evergreen Estates, composed of 23 properties, zoned commercial and residential, is north of Pas Ka Poo Park on the west side of Highway 20 bypass.