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Council looks at adding residential subclass

DIDSBURY - At it's regular meeting on Oct. 8, Didsbury council heard a report from Frank Watson, the town's assessor, about the possibility of adding a muncipal property tax residential subclass, which would affect 44 unserviced properties.

DIDSBURY - At it's regular meeting on Oct. 8, Didsbury council heard a report from Frank Watson, the town's assessor, about the possibility of adding a muncipal property tax residential subclass, which would affect 44 unserviced properties.

Watson told council he was asked by Amanda Riley, Didsbury's chief financial officer, to look into whether any municipalities in Alberta give tax relief to unserviced residential properties.

"What I did was I reached out to assessors in the area, and I also reached out to a number of municipalities and talked to their tax people to see if any municipalities have done this," said Watson. "Without exception, there's no municipalities I could find in Alberta that grant tax relief to properties that are not serviced through municipal water and sewer."

Watson did say that the Town of Cochrane granted a four-year extension to annexed properties that weren't sold.

"You must realize any reduction in taxes to one segment of the population (your ratepayers) has to be made up by the other segments or you reduce your budget," he said.

Watson described two methods of adding a residential subclass: by having council add a bylaw to divide one class into sub-classes; or by having council reduce or refund taxes.

Mayor Rhonda Hunter said that the money from taxes not collected did not have to be made up by other taxpayers.

"There are other ways to cut costs in budgets too that don't affect other ratepayers," said Hunter. "We can look at cuts rather than increases in other people's taxes to offset that. What that looks like, we don't know at this point."

After some further discussion, council accepted the verbal report as information. Council also carried a motion to direct administration to bring back two scenarios of subclasses taking into consideration the verbal report from Watson.

That second motion is to be brought back to council at the second regular council meeting in November on Nov. 26.