M.D. councillor proposing minimum tax per parcel

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

If M.D. of Lesser Slave River Councillor Brad Pearson gets his way, some property owners in the M.D. will be paying more in property taxes.

On March 27, Pearson put the idea of a minimum tax amount on the agenda – one of three late agenda additions from the Canyon Creek resident.

Pearson’s argument is that the M.D. needs to impose a minimum amount of property tax, per lot, across the board. He gave as an example a property (he didn’t say where, or how large the property was), that was paying only $47.

Given the infrastructure deficit the M.D. is facing, Pearson continued, we need to raise more in property taxes. His motion was for administration to bring back a proposal for a minimum amount of property tax – say $100, $150 or $200 – per parcel.

“I think it’s time to realize that $50 or $47 is not enough,” he said.

Pearson later told The Leader the M.D. is collecting something like $62,000 in taxes on $7 million-worth of agricultural property.

Councillor Sandra Melzer said she agreed in principle with Pearson’s proposal, but is worried about the impact on low-income residents.

Pearson went on to remind his colleagues – and administration – that he’d brought the same thing up a year ago, with a similar request, but it didn’t happen. Moving on, he said, “I’m not asking for a recommendation. I’m asking to apply a number, and what the implications are.”

For example, “how many lots are going to be affected?”

Pearson added that the formula would have to be applied “across our municipality, not just the ag.”

Perhaps surprisingly, Pearson received no opposition to the idea from his fellow councillors, as he certainly would have, and did, when Robert Esau was on council. But his colleagues will likely have plenty to say when the matter comes back for discussion and an actual decision has to be made about raising taxes.

Pearson also said he didn’t want to create a lot of extra work for administration, with too many scenarios using different minimum tax amounts.

Running the numbers won’t be a problem, observed Councillor Norm Seatter; “the difficult part is getting the list (of properties).”

Council voted in favour of a Pearson motion to have administration bring a report on a minimum tax levy, within a couple of months.

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