The Town of Whitecourt is giving Woodlands County another chance to reconsider wanting to cancel the Tax Revenue Sharing Agreement.
Whitecourt Town Council this week continued discussing the repercussions if the County does terminate the agreement. Woodlands let the Town know on June 20th that they wish to cancel the tax revenue sharing between the two immediately, citing financial hardship. The move came after Woodlands previously notified the Town they wished to end their cost-sharing agreement at the end of the year.
The Tax Revenue Sharing Agreement lets the municipalities work together on future non-residential developments and share tax revenues from projects valued at over $50 million in the pre-determined area, with the host municipality receiving 70% of the taxes.
The agreement was a first of its kind and was provincially recognized when it was signed in 2010. The transfer of funds was intended to recognize that both the Town and County provide services, facilities, and other things that are necessary to maintain a viable community. Each year, both municipalities transfer some share of their tax revenues to each other: Whitecourt to Woodlands County $85,656 and Woodlands to Whitecourt $114,864.
Whitecourt Mayor Maryann Chichak says the agreement forms the basis of the communities planning together as one without borders, and now Council is hoping the County reconsiders wanting to end it.
As Chichak said, for now, the Town is rejecting Woodland’s letter to terminate the agreement and wants the County to provide numbers showing evidence of the financial hardship they claim. In a letter being sent to the County with that request, the Town will also ask the County if they are sure they want to terminate the Tax Revenue Sharing Agreement. They have given Woodlands a deadline to reply by August 21st.
Should the County say ‘yes’ and the Tax Revenue Agreement is terminated, Whitecourt Council has decided that they will then send a two-year notice of canceling the water/wastewater agreement that is in place.
That motion was first brought up in June after Whitecourt received the letter from Woodlands about wanting to end the tax revenue sharing. The motion was tabled until this week’s meeting on July 15th and has now been put over until the next Town Council meeting on August 26th while they wait to hear back from the County.
The Water and Wastewater Agreement was an amendment made to the original cost-share agreement in 2013 and was entered into between Whitecourt and Woodlands as a way for Whitecourt to provide the County with water services for its residents. In return, Woodlands would annually transfer revenue sharing of 10.4% of its total linear assessment to Whitecourt (linear sharing).
Mayor Chichak says that water goes hand in hand with linear assessment, and if Woodlands remains firm on no longer sharing revenue, as linear sits currently at 0%, then Whitecourt has to look at canceling the water/wastewater agreement.
Chichak says under the agreement, the Town must provide at least two years of notice before canceling it. She says this would give the County time to either reconsider or make plans to find alternative ways of providing water services to its residents going forward.