Wednesday July 23, 2014



QUESTION OF THE WEEK

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Municipalities going electronic

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Allison Gibbard Photo

Municipalities in the region will now have additional options when it comes to property tax notices. Instead of having to send out notices through the mail, cities like Dawson Creek and Fort St. John will have the option of doing so electronically as well.

Municipalities such as Fort St. John and Dawson Creek will now have the option of sending property tax notices electronically.

“In this digital age, with more and more people doing business online, the big news here is giving municipalities and taxpayers the choice of sending and receiving tax notices electronically,” said Bill Bennett, minister of community, sport and cultural development.

Both the Fort St. John and Dawson Creek municipalities seem to agree that this is a natural next step and a positive way to go.

“I think it’s great. I think there’s going to come a point in time probably in the not too far future where we’re checking our emails and mailboxes have almost become a thing of the past,” said Trevor Bolin, a Fort St. John councilor.

Bolin also believes that sending property taxes electronically will cut down costs for the City.

“When you mail our two or three letters, it’s not very costly. When you send out 4,000 letters, those costs definitely at up quick. I think this is another way to kind of control costs, bring some of the costs down that aren’t necessary,” he said.

For others, having the opportunity to send property taxes via email is simply adapting with today’s world.

“It’s definitely the right direction to go. We’re going to see this more and more. More and more opportunities coming our way down the road to be able to use the Internet more frequently to do business and to save people and save the environment,” said Dawson Creek Mayor Mike Bernier.

However, Dawson Creek councilor Terry McFadyen has concerns that not everybody will want or be able to use this option.

“I guess there would have to be a phase in. Some folks I suspect may not be that computer literate … myself included,” he explained.

While it does seem as though receiving property taxes electronically will be optional, Bolin also explained that rushing into this new legislation wouldn’t be the way to go.

“Their needs to be heavy communication on it to let people know that it is easy, it is safe, [and] it is secure. Don’t spring it on people but let them know that this is a choice, it’s going to save costs, it’s going to be more efficient for them,” he said.

This new legislation will mean a decrease in the amount of mail that is sent out regarding property notices and therefore some believe it will go a long way in helping the environment.

“NEAT welcomes and supports the legislation to allow all municipalities to send property tax notices electronically,” said Dzengo Mzengeza executive director for Northern Environmental Action Team.

“Municipalities will join businesses including banks that are already providing the option to their customers of receiving statements electronically. This greatly reduce[s] the vast amounts of paper used for sending notices some of which ends up in the landfill. It’s a welcome development as we strive to achieve a zero waste community.”

Both municipalities are hopeful that this new legislation will help reduce the amount of waste in our cities.

Bernier noted: “Anywhere where there’s a possibility to cut down on paper usage, we want to continue to promote that.”


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