Big Lakes writes off $2.8 million in taxes

Richard Froese
For the Lakeside Leader

Big Lakes County has recorded a shortfall of almost $2.8 million in tax revenue from oil and gas companies unable (or unwilling) to pay property taxes for the past two years.

At its Dec. 9 meeting, county council approved a recommendation to declare $2.78 million-worth of taxes owing as uncollectable.

Written off, but not quite forgotten.

“We are still doing our due diligence to try to collect these funds, the county’s director of corporate services Heather Nanninga told council.
One councillor echoed that message.

“Just because we write them off, we can still chase them,” said Don Charrois.

Council had allocated $8 million in write-offs in the 2020 budget.

Reeve Ken Matthews questioned why municipalities are short-changed by companies owing taxes.

“How can they allow companies to still operate when they don’t pay their taxes to municipalities?” he asked. “How does the provincial government allow that to happen?”

CAO Jordan Panasiuk said many companies pay their taxes to the provincial government, but not to municipalities. Matthews called that “frustrating.”

Matthews went on to say that the Rural Municipalities Association (RMA) would be raising the concern with the provincial government.

Big Lakes wrote off taxes on 172 properties, including 101 from one company and 58 from another.

This sort of thing has happened before. In December 2019, council wrote off $6 million for two years of oil and gas taxes it deemed uncollectable.

Council also passed a motion to write off nearly $14,000 in accounts receivable.

Ken Matthews

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