Williams Lake city council has voted in favour of South Lakeside residents being refunded for sewer and water parcel tax payments made in 2020.
Originally the residents were billed $471.92 for the parcel tax beginning in 2000 when they were hooked into the City’s water and sewer system, if they chose not to pay for the whole thing up front.
The very first bylaw, drawn up in 1999 stipulated there would be 20 payments.
However, when it was determined by the chief financial officer that there was still an amount left to pay on the residents’ portion of the $8.6 million project, the City pursued collecting another payment in 2020.
When long-time South Lakeside resident Judy Albin, a former city councillor and former school board trustee, noticed a discrepancy, she brought her concerns to the City during a committee of the whole meeting in June and said the residents had paid the 20 payments.
City council then asked staff to investigate and prepare a report.
During the council meeting held Tuesday, July 14, chief financial officer Vitali Kozubenko presented council with three options on how to address the $26,577.09 he said was still owed from the residents’ portion toward the $8.6 million dollar project, which the province had covered 53 per cent, the City 30 per cent and the residents 17 per cent.
“When staff looked at this bylaw at the beginning of the year we saw that there was now a year of tax payments that needed to be collected to pay the money,” Kozubenko said.
The City went to the residents and said there was a parcel tax review, published it on the City’s website, and invited the residents to comment, he added, noting when no one came forward, the City proceeded with the tax collection.
Corporate officer Ross Coupe offered council a legislative perspective on the issue during the meeting, saying the City tracked that there were 20 payments made.
“The bylaws themselves stem initially from a 1999 bylaw and eventually there are about 18 bylaws to this story,” he said.
While he didn’t want to go through all of the various bylaws with council, Coupe explained there were a couple of changes which may have impacted the amount that was collected in the end, but if residents had made the payments from 2000 to 2019, they’d met the requirements of the bylaws.
“I personally err on the side of the residents of South Lakeside,” Coun. Scott Nelson said after hearing the two reports. “It was a fantastic project and a project I think helped the community as a whole. It helped to reduce the phosphate going into our lake.”
Nelson said it was legislative issue and in amongst 20 years there is $26,000 missing, but council was going to ‘have to eat it.’
Smiling after the meeting, Albin said she appreciated that staff took the time to investigate the issue after she brought it to their attention.
“I am glad they made the right decision,” she added.