By Tim Kalinowski
Redcliff council debated a request by town administration to turn over tax collection duties to private agency TAXervice for those ratepayers in arrears in the community last Monday evening.
Citing the fact there is not a permanent financial officer hired by the town at this time, and with other staff stretched thin doing other duties, Redcliff municipal manager Arlos Crofts requested council approve the hiring of TAXervice to take over the tax recovery effort.
The company would charge the town nothing to do this, but would tack on up to $500 in extra fees to those they are collecting from; this on top of taxes and late penalties already owing.
Coun. Larry Leipert moved to reject the proposal.
“I think we have a pretty good record of doing it ourselves,” said Leipert. “Basically, we work with people that have had issues. Once you give this to somebody like (TAXervice) their agenda is to move it forward. We should have the expertise to do this in house, and I feel we have done a good job of it so far.”
Coun. Chere Brown felt the staff request should be granted. She also pointed to the fact there would be no extra incurred cost to the town due to the way the TAXervice fee structure operates.
“I think this is a good opportunity to do this,” said Brown.
Coun. Leipert replied those extra fees tacked on were a big part of the reason he was opposed to hiring the company in the first place.
“Where someone is already having problems paying for it; to have these guys add additional fees, which perhaps we do not, is another burden on our taxpayers,” explained Leipert.
Coun. Dwight Kilpatrick said he too had problems with the notion of extra fees for taxpayers and asked for a trial period to be written in if council opted to vote to hire TAXervice.
“I would like to know if this is a stop-gap measure or something to be considered a permanent measure?” asked Kilpatrick.
After Leipert’s motion to reject was defeated, Coun. Chere Brown moved to hire TAXervice with the stipulation that the town try them out for the remainder of 2015 and re-evaluate next year. The motion then passed by a vote of 6-1 in favour.