Thursday, August 16, 2012
Knowing as my readers do how I feel about this council's criminal, usury Late Penalty Property Tax Bylaw, to say I was pissed to read the article below (not available on line) in this week's Crowsnest Promoter would be an understatement. The arbitrary unfairness is so obvious you'd have to be blind not to see it...
Property tax penalties appealed
by Joni MacFarlane
Two property owners made appeals to the municipality to waive penalties for late payment of taxes, with one achieving success and one being denied.
On July 17, Director of Finance & Corporate Services Marion Vanoni reported to council that a woman who paid her taxes on July 3, which is after the due date, has made an appeal to council for a waiver of the penalty.
A Property Tax Penalty Bylaw was developed last fall that set out a tax due date of June 30. Vanoni said the bylaw was communicated through multiple venues as well as payment details and options.
Vanoni said the woman was basing her appeal on another community who gave their taxpayers a break because June 30 fell on a weekend
"Because the Crowsnest Pass provides numerous ways of making payment for taxes... and we provide 60 days worth of notice between when the tax notice goes out and when payment is due... we felt that June 30, even though it was a weekend, really should have no impact on one's ability to pay," said Vanoni.
For these reasons, she recommended the appeal be denied.
Various councillors weighed in with some saying penalizing someone for one day seemed excessive and others feeling deadlines must be adhered to.
"I feel for these people and if July 3 is okay, what about July 4th or the 12th," asked Councillor Jerry Lonsbury. "I really have a whole lot of difficulty with us establishing a guideline and then saying it's okay if it's just a day late... If I paid my taxes on the 4th and we forgive those who paid them on the 3rd, I would be here next council meeting saying, if the 3rd was okay, what's the matter with the 4th?".
Mayor Bruce Decoux said that last year council forgave some late payments, but said that this would be the last year this would be done. A motion to grant the appeal lost by a vote of 4-3. Mayor Decoux and Councillors Gail, Mitchell and Lonsbury opposed the motion and a tax penalty of over $1,000 will be applied.
In the second case, an appeal was made on compassionate grounds.
Vanoni said the property owner paid his taxes well in advance of the due date every year but this year, "due to personal tragedy (he) was incapacitated and unable to make arrangements." A relative contacted the municipality on July 6 to make payment.
Council unanimously agreed to waive the property tax penalty of $686.
Comment: What do we have here, old-school vs new-school, long-time resident vs weekender or newcomer? Or is it just playing favourites again and sticking it to those we don't like?
The person who got dinged here with a $1,000 penalty ($5,000 x 20%) for being 3 days late while the one who was 6 days late saw their penalty waived, must be pretty upset... and rightfully so.
Double standards you say? Favouritism you say? Hypocrites you say? Damn right! Never mind that it was a long weekend and that the $1,000 penalty for being 3 days late on a $5,000 bill is outrageous and criminal usury!
But hey, what do you expect from the Pass having, once again, four 'old-school' councillors (and CFO) vs three 'new-school'?
It seems the more things change here, the more they stay the same. Doesn't it?
Tossing out one set of bums for new ones just gives us more of the same bums with different faces.