MOUNTAIN VIEW COUNTY - Council has approved the cancellation of a $187,542 tax penalty against an oil and gas company operating in Mountain View County.
The move came by way of motion at the recent council meeting, held in person and on Zoom.
The county imposed the penalty on Whitecap Resources Inc. in September after 2022 tax levies of $4,707,077 were not received by the annual tax deadline that month, council heard.
“The four per cent outstanding penalty amount was applied to the account balance that includes two small adjustments, one for a 2021 small overpayment and a 2022 linear assessment revision slightly reduced the 2022 levy,” said Jeff Holmes, the county's chief administrative officer.
In a letter sent to the county by Whitecap on Oct. 3, the company called the missed payment of taxes “extremely abnormal as part of Whitecap Resources Inc. standard business practice.”
“Regrettably, due to issues outside our control, the Sept. 15 property tax deadline was missed for the payment of 2022 property taxes,” said Whitecap Resources Inc. operations accountant Christel Vierling. “As soon as the miss-payment was identified the total tax amount owed of $4,707,077.67 was promptly sent in full by electronic transfer on the 21st (of September).”
In the letter the company asked the county to waive the $187,542 tax penalty.
County administration recommended that the tax penalty not be waived.
“Historically we have typically not granted any tax relief for penalties simply because someone forgot or was late,” said Holmes. “I do believe that precedence has been carried forward through councils over the years.”
During the Nov. 16 council meeting, council discussed the matter at some length.
Reeve Angela Aalbers said, “So my only concern on this is that I know that we don’t normally ever do this, but when I look at their risk, it seems like everything that it comes down to with risk is high or medium and I am just always cognizant of the fact that we might be pushing them over the edge.”
Coun. Jennifer Lutz said, “I would rather to see a bit of lenience just because it was less than two weeks (before full amount was paid). I think it probably was a computer glitch or something.”
Coun. Peggy Johnson said, “I appreciate that Whitecap is a pretty good company. However, we hold small taxpayers to the letter of the law and I guess I don’t see this as being any different.”
Coun. Gord Krebs said, “I think we follow precedence and do not forgive this.”
Coun. Alan Miller said he did not support granting the waiver.
Coun. Greg Harris said, “In this particular case I think when we have an oil and gas company that has been a good corporate citizen, I’m willing to think that we should forgive this.”
Coun. Dwayne Fulton did not comment during the council discussion.
Council voted to approve the tax penalty cancellation of $187,542.51 for late penalties incurred by Whitecap Resources Inc.