By Cole Parkinson
While tax collection dates in the Municipal District of Taber have traditionally been in November, a change will see it shift come 2021.
“We’ve heard many times from Bryan Badura (director of corporate services) about the value of moving it forward and I think we saw that value last fall when we realized come tax collection date how much we were short. We need to decide if we move it a month or two if it would be beneficial as far as budgeting,” said Reeve Merrill Harris at the M.D.’s policy meeting held on June 17.
The topic was brought to the M.D.’s Annual General Meeting held on April 30 to get some feedback on whether or not moving the date would be feasible and beneficial.
While there were comments made from both sides, moving the date would give the M.D. a clearer picture of what they are working with financially heading into budget season.
“I have actually had a few people tell me it makes sense to move it forward so we can better plan for our budgeting. Since we are one of the latest ones collecting tax towards the end of the year, all of those companies have already paid. It is not everybody but those are the ones we really need to collect from. They have already given their money to other municipalities because their dates are earlier. I would be in favour of moving it forward. One way of looking at it is ripping the Band-Aid off fast or taking it off slowly by moving it one month at a time each year,” said Coun. Jen Crowson.
Others were also in favour of bumping the date up.
“I think moving it up would be good so we could plan better for budget,” said Coun. Leavitt Howg.
An added bonus councillors pointed to for M.D. ratepayers was the Tax Instalment Payment Plan which allows people to pay monthly instead of a single payment.
“I’m in favour especially since we have the monthly option,” added Deputy Reeve Tamara Miyanaga, who highlighted the M.D.’s new tax paying program open to all M.D. residents.
M.D. taxpayers can enter into the program any time prior to July 1 of the current year tax levy and the monthly payments for property taxes are pre-authorized bank withdrawals on the 15th of every month.
“I think being proactive and communicating that out to taxpayers, if they know they have that, there is no penalty if you sign up for that,” added Crowson.
While council knew this payment year would not be possible to change the date, they discussed whether they wanted to move the date back month by month each year until the right date was chosen or just simply move it to that date immediately.
“It doesn’t matter how you prepare people. There will be people on both sides that are good with the change slowly or ones who want it over with,” said Crowson. “It has to be something. I think we are too late in the year.”
In terms of dates that could be used as the new collection date, they explored a few different ideas of how to implement the new date.
Other municipalities are spread out from June to August for collection dates but council realizes too big of a jump would be off-putting and result in challenges for their rate payers.
“Some of them are in June. Most of the larger centres are around June and some of the rural have gone to June,” said Badura.
“I was thinking August 15, that is three months earlier than it is present. Is that too big of a jump?” asked Harris.
A motion was made to move the tax collection date to August 14 beginning in the tax payment year of 2021 and was carried 5-2.
Councillors Brian Brewin and John Turcato opposed the motion.