Strathmore Town Council passed all three readings for Bylaw 23-30, being the property tax penalty and monthly tax installment payment plan bylaw, during the Oct. 18 regular meeting of council.

Tom Maier, manager of financial planning, budgeting, and analysis, presented the bylaw before council, explaining the previous iteration had been in place since 2011, and was both confusing for administration, as well as being difficult to implement properly, and outdated. 

The new bylaw changes the tax penalty component of the document, and largely leaves the tax installment plan the same. 

Some of the key changes to the bylaw include the simplification of the process to administer and levy property tax penalties for those who make late payments. 

“Going to the new bylaw presents consistency to the bylaw where we are going to a monthly penalty process and a consistent tax penalty rate of two per cent,” said Maier. “That is similar to what you would see in our utility penalty and what you see in business credit cards … so we just want to bring it up to current standards.”

A goal of the bylaw is to bring fairness and equity to the rate structure. Within the old structure, the percentages expected to be paid of late fines changed depending on the month, and months were variable throughout the year. 

As per the new bylaw, a consistent two per cent rate is implemented, which if not paid for an entire year, will add up to 24 per cent for the annum. Maier noted this is comparable to what somebody might pay in fees on their credit card. 

Additionally, the new bylaw aims to make the system fairer for the taxpayer, as previously, if someone was unable to catch up on payments over the first nine months, the penalty would work up to 36 per cent interest. This made it extremely difficult for taxpayers to catch up if they became egregiously behind. 

“Providing a more fair and equitable tax penalty rate throughout the year will just help taxpayers and residents hopefully stay on top and be able to pay their taxes on time or more quicky,” said Maier.

The change to the bylaw will also help to alleviate stress on residents or businesses who miss a tax due date, as they will no longer be immediately hit with a 10 per cent interest penalty.

Coun. Jason Montgomery motioned for council to pass first and second readings of the bylaw: motion was carried unanimously without further discussion

Coun. Brent Wiley motioned for council to give unanimous consent to have third reading of the bylaw, as well as to pass third reading of Bylaw 23-30. Both motions were passed unanimously.

By John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Oct 26, 2023 at 01:15

This item reprinted with permission from   Strathmore Times   Strathmore, Alberta

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