Incentives for the early payment of municipal taxes were reviewed during Monday's regular council meeting.
The financial services department presented a report to council regarding information about the provincial government’s changes to the Cities Act effective Jan. 1 and the effect on the prepayment discounts. It also required a revision of Bylaw 4279, which outlines the penalties the city offers for late payment of property taxes.
Council voted to maintain the current system of prepayment discounts and late payment penalties during Monday’s meeting.
The City of Moose Jaw provides property owners with incentives to pay taxes early, referred to as a property tax discount, like many other Saskatchewan cities. The one per cent discount of received payment applies to any property tax payment received between Jan. 1 and March 31 of each year.
Prepayment notices are sent out in December to notify owners of the available discounts the city offers for property taxes. The notices also include the discount available to them if they prepay their taxes in the discount months.
The notices cost $8,620 to print and mail, assuming postage rates do not change. The information pertaining to the assessment of a property in the notice will change in 2013 because it is a reassessment year.
“I just see it as confusing and not necessary, because I have a strong hunch that most of those people lining up here on Jan. 2 are going to line up here to pay their taxes early without a notice of prepayment,” said Coun. Brian Swanson, adding that the reassessment year means the assessment sent out would be incorrect and outdated. “There won’t be an easier $8,600 to save for the City of Moose Jaw ever than not issuing a prepayment notice that would have information that would be out of date by the time people get the letter.”
Swanson made a motion to discontinue the issuing of prepayment notices. Coun. Dawn Luhning said she agreed with what Swanson said, adding that she supports adding the notice to a water and utility bill as Swanson suggested.
Director of financial services Brian Acker said that the prepayment notices have been a useful reminder for citizens.
For more information, see an upcoming edition of the Times-Herald.