By Greg Price
The County of Stettler has requested from the Municipal District of Taber a united front on the issue of uncollectible school tax and seniors housing requisitions which municipalities and districts must collect and remit on behalf of the provincial government.
In a letter addressed to M.D. council at its Aug. 8 meeting, the County of Stettler noted they are concerned the Municipal Affairs Assessment Services Branch is deliberately passing on provincial debts to municipalities and districts knowing they will be unable to collect, yet still be compelled to remit.
The County of Stettler issued a letter to Shaye Anderson, minister of municipal affairs, stating in many cases, oil and gas company ratepayers become insolvent and the county has been unable to recover the significant school tax and seniors housing requisitions levied against the insolvent oil and gas companies.
The mandatory school tax and seniors housing requisition remittance for these oil companies is paid out of the municipality’s operating budget, causing hardship for families and taxpayers.
The letter highlighted from 2013-2016, the County of Stettler was obligated to collect and then forward $260,882.28 in school tax requisitions and $27,826.29 in senior housing requisitions to the provincial government on behalf of oil and gas companies which the County of Stettler was unable to collect from.
“School tax and seniors housing requisitions are vital to maintaining the fabric of our standard of life here in Alberta. By forcing Alberta municipalities, including the county to undertake the collection of school tax and seniors housing requisitions on behalf of the province, and thereby force municipalities to assume the risk that these amounts will be unrecoverable, the province has forced taxpayers within the county to carry the burden of the province’s debt” stated the letter to Municipal Affairs.
The letter was also sent to Premier Rachel Notley, Drumheller-Stettler MLA Rick Strankman and the presidents of the AAMDC (Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties) and AUMA.
“There are many others who are in the same position as we are,” said Derrick Krizsan, CAO for the M.D. of Taber.
Ben Elfring, councillor for the M.D. of Taber added there will be a meeting on Sept. 29 for the AAMDC where this issue will be discussed.
“We have to get our report card on our resolutions out faster than what we have been doing. Another thing is the resolutions that are containing federal, seem to be dying at the AAMDC level.”
County of Stettler encouraged M.D. council to research its own uncollectible school tax and seniors housing requisition remittances from 2013-2016; and estimated losses for 2017 so that various municipalities and counties can provide a complete picture to the provincial government of the monetary hardship small municipalities and districts are facing.
County of Stettler is requesting the province reimburse the county for its uncollectible school tax and seniors housing requisition remittances from 2013-2016 and that future amendments be made to the Municipal Government Act.
Also, that other provincial legislation be considered to improve the ability of municipalities to recover unpaid taxes levied against oil and gas operations and the associated machinery and equipment and linear property.