The City of Lacombe is working swiftly to remove an antiquated bylaw (Bylaw 238) which treated mobile homeowners different than other residents in the city.
The bylaw forced mobile homeowners to pay taxes by January 15th every year, rather than in May like other dwellings. The concern stemmed from a Coffee with Council session earlier this year, where a new resident brought up the different dates to Councillor Cora Hoekstra. Hoekstra and City Director Diane Piche informed the resident they would immediately look into this discrepancy.
“Historically, there was probably good reasons why some of these decisions are made but that doesn’t mean those decisions still apply to today and for these citizens, it was fantastic they came forward and asked why,” Hoekstra said. “There wasn’t anger, they just asked and we were able to respond to their question and now tonight start the process to say we treat all residents in Lacombe in the same way when it comes to taxation.”
The bylaw, which was instituted in 1996, was originally, “To limit the risk to the municipality of not collecting taxes on mobile homes located on leased or rented land. The risk is due to the ability of moving mobile homes off the land before tax bills are levied and payments received.”
The actual risk of not collecting taxes on these properties has negligible — with the city historically collecting 100 per cent owed on these properties.
“I think your average citizen in Lacombe would never have imagined that some residents get their tax assessment in May, whereas if you live in a mobile home park — that would happen in January. The citizens were saying, “Why are we treated differently?”,” Hoekstra said.
Administration wanted to solve the problem immediately by moving all three motions in one council meeting, however, Council chose not to break precedent in order to stay keep procedure consistent. The third reading will happen at the Sept. 9 council meeting.
“We don’t want citizens thinking they are being treated differently and I commend those citizens for asking us to look at this,” Hoekstra said, adding she encourages other citizens to bring questions forward.
“Sometimes the rationale is 100 per cent a good reason, whereas in this instance it didn’t make sense anymore. I commend the city staff for helping us make that change,” she said.