The district will be asking the province to waive outstanding 2012 property tax penalties as requested by a dozen residential and business property owners.
Council’s position to support the requests to waive the penalties totalling $13,147 followed significant debate, and was supported unanimously in voting (with Couns. Greg Kyllo and Charlotte Hutchinson absent) though not vocally.
Council was given four options, one to waive all 12 requests; the second, to deny all; the third, to waive penalties of two property owners, whose penalty stemmed from an error by the district; and the fourth, to waive penalties for properties selected by council.
Coun. Terry Rysz argued in favour of the first option, recognizing it was a unique year in that the majority of requests were from people impacted by this summer’s flooding.
Coun. Fred Busch, however, favoured option C, excusing only those cases where the district was at fault.
“I think not only are we setting a bad precedent and setting ourselves up for future claims, also, you have to realize that because we didn’t receive this money, that then perhaps we have to go into our line of credit to cover some of the expenses that ordinarily would have been covered by the people not paying his or her taxes on time, or people not paying at all.”
Mayor Darrell Trouton also expressed apprehension about the first option.
“I do like option D, because some of these people came in late and have paid their taxes now, but they’re still sitting on it… there should be a penalty. And that’s in play now…,” said Trouton.
District financial services director Ruth Walper concurred with Rysz, stating it was an exceptional year. She explained this is reflected in the fact the requests were forwarded to council, as normally she warns those requesting their tax penalties be written off that there’s little likelihood of that happening.
“Normally, we would tell people you have this option, but our recommendation is going to be that it be denied, so lots of people don’t bother to apply,” said Walper. “We did not do that this year because of the exceptional situation that we had here in Sicamous. That is why there is such a large number of requests this year.”