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Bonnyville town council looking to change tax penalties

Tax penalties could be different for Bonnyville residents who miss the deadline.

Bonnyville town council has tasked administration with coming up with a new tax penalty bylaw that lessens the hurt for those who miss the tax deadline.

Currently, if you’re a day late on your taxes, a resident is charged a 12 per cent tax penalty.

Town council looked at how other municipalities issue tax penalties and liked Cold Lake’s policy of a two per cent incremental penalty for every month you don’t pay taxes after the due date.

“The issue of the tax penalties came up earlier this year and we actually voted in favour of relaxing for the first time in 20 years as a result of various issues,” said Mayor Gene Sobolewski on The Morning After.

Town council did waive a tax penalty for a property owner when there was an issue with the town’s internal payment system.

“It raised the issue of is this policy arcane? What I mean by that is the current policy says the hour of the first day past the due date, you’re slammed with a 12 per cent penalty. We looked at some policies from other municipalities and some did that, but some have more of a progressive.

“So it starts at two per cent, Cold Lake for example, and incrementally increases by two per cent every month that you’ve missed. There were a few others that had that incremental stepping. That was something council looked at Tuesday night and was very much in favour of developing a policy like that. So council charged administration with a policy or bylaw that we could review,” he said.

Councillor Brian McEvoy said an incremental penalty could see more people pay quicker.

“My comment on the Cold Lake bylaw as well is that bylaw is an incentive to pay it early. Where ours as soon as it goes into arrears you might as wait until Dec. 31,” he said

“This is an incentive to pay as soon as possible, which gives us cash flow so I would actually have staff take a look at a proposal to revising our tax penalties.”

CEDA’s penalty upheld

Later in the meeting, however, one business trying to have their tax penalties cancelled did not have success after arguing their computer system was having issues printing cheques.

CEDA’s request to clear $21,000 in tax penalties was denied by town council.

“The council takes a very dim view because there are other alternatives. The tax notices are sent well in advance. You don’t have to wait until the 11th hour and the 59th minute to be able to write the cheque for your taxes.

“Those types of cases, council has not been receptive to relaxing the penalty. But it also stems into the whole discussion is it necessary to slam with a 12 per cent penalty other than having something incremental.”

Bonnyville town council’s next meeting is Sept. 10