Frustrations ran high this week for Whitecourt Town Councilors after they received a letter on June 20th from Woodlands County stating that they are terminating the Tax Revenue Sharing Agreement between the two, effective immediately.
Woodlands County wrote the termination is due to their ongoing financial constraints, but the letter was still met with anger and frustration by Town officials as the two councils continue to negotiate a new cost-sharing agreement.
The Tax Revenue Sharing agreement was separate from the cost-sharing and saw the town and county split revenues 70/30 respectively, from major projects that generated over $50 million in taxes.
Whitecourt councilor Ray Hilts says the termination doesn’t look good for the increasingly strained relationship.
Deputy Mayor of Whitecourt, Paul Chauvet echoed Councilor Hilts’ sentiment, saying the agreements were “precedent” and going forward it leaves a lot of uncertainty and questions.
Woodlands County Mayor Ron Govenlock says he understands Whitecourt’s frustrations, but due to the financial situation the County finds themselves in, they are no longer able to commit to the Tax Revenue Sharing Agreement that was in place.
At the end of the day, Govenlock says, the County needs to focus on what’s best for its residents, business owners, and community partners.
While Town Council felt this was a setback to their negotiations, Govenlock says the County is still committed to trying to make a new cost-sharing agreement before the December 31st deadline.
That is something Whitecourt Mayor Maryann Chichak would like to see happen, as she says she will continue working to find an agreement between the Town and County.
In response to the letter, Councilor Hilts suggested that if the County no longer wants to be a partner, then Whitecourt should cancel the water agreement shared between the two. The rest of Council wanted more information on the implications that could bring and voted to table the motion for further discussion at their next meeting on July 15th.