WESTLOCK – Westlock County councillors have turned down a requested tax repayment payment plan from a Calgary-based oil and gas company that still owes the municipality six figures.
At their May 10 regular meeting, county councillors went in-camera to discuss “tax arrears payments plan” which interim CAO Pat Vincent said in a May 12 follow-up interview is for the company Long Run Exploration Ltd., a Calgary-based intermediate oil and natural gas company focused on light-oil development and exploration in western Canada.
Vincent said company reps and council went behind closed doors last fall to discuss a repayment schedule which council denied and following the May 10 discussion, council again held firm and passed a motion to reject the proposal from Long Run Exploration and leave the “arrears and penalties as is.” Vincent couldn’t give a specific total but said it’s a “substantial amount” but “under $400,000” for current and back taxes, plus penalties on what’s owed for the pipelines the company owns within the municipality.
“They came back with a somewhat similar proposal based on the fact that some other municipalities, Kneehill County is one and Beaver County is another, have decided to agree to voiding (tax arrears) penalties from 2020 and 2021. So, based on their success in negotiating with other counties they thought they’d try negotiating again with Westlock County,” said Vincent.
“The ironic thing is that here’s a major oil company that’s making profits right now asking for forgiveness of penalties and arrears and you know what, two meetings ago we brought forward about six properties we’re recommending taking the title for because they can’t pay their taxes or penalties. Where’s the fairness or equity?”
Vincent said the ball is now back in the company’s court and he expects them to comply.
“Right now our response to their overture is thanks, but no thanks as we’re not prepared to reduce any of the penalties and we expect them to pay their taxes in full just like any other good corporate citizen and any other resident in Westlock County,” said Vincent.