Curling club asks for tax arrear extension

Duane Hicks

The Fort Frances Curling Club is asking for a little more time to pay the first instalment of an outstanding tax bill to the town.
The club owes the town more than $30,000, and the first of five $6,100 annual payments is due July 31.
The other payments would be due July 31 in the four following years.
The club’s request is to change the due date for payments of tax arrears over the next five years from July 31 to Sept. 30 of each year.
In a letter to council dated April 10, club president Ron MacKinnon explained the change of date is required to allow it to have the cash flow to make payments on time.
The curling club holds its registration each September, at which time it receives money from the membership.
At Monday night’s council meeting, the Administration and Finance executive committee had recommended council not change the annual due dates.
And further, that an interest rate of 1.25 percent per month be calculated on the first day of default and the first day of every month thereafter.
But Coun. Rick Wiedenhoeft suggested the request be discussed further, and that maybe the curling club be given the option to pay two months later.
He added that while the deadline for everyone’s tax payments is July 31, the payment is question is not a tax payment but one of tax arrears.
If the town doesn’t change its due date to Sept. 30, and the curling club still can’t pay until that time, it will be paying $154 in interest for paying two months late.
Coun. Wiedenhoeft said that might not sound like too much, but it is for an organization on a “shoestring budget.”
“Given the fact that the curling club is run by a volunteer organization, I think we’re very appreciative that they don’t turn the curling club over to the Town of Fort Frances, which would be a huge cost to the Town of Fort Frances if we were to run that place,” he noted.
“I am almost of a mind to allow them to make payment by September, when they have accumulated their fees for the following year,” he added.
“In July, they don’t really have cash flow . . . they would not have a cash flow problem if the payment was made in September.”
Coun. Paul Ryan agreed, noting the curling club provides recreation to people of all ages on a volunteer basis.
“On top of that, they pay their taxes and they’re trying to pay their arrears,” he remarked.
“I don’t think it would be a problem, in my mind, to extend the date from July 31 to Sept. 31.”
On the other hand, Coun. Ken Perry said the curling club made an agreement with the town back in 2007 with respect to paying its tax arrears (which stem back to 2003-06) and it has had enough time to prepare for this series of payments.
“They’ve had since 2007, when this agreement was struck, to start putting this money aside,” he argued.
“I just don’t understand how two more months is going to help them to that great extent.”
Mayor Roy Avis noted the reason for the 2007 agreement was that the curling club had a “mortgage situation,” where they couldn’t afford to pay their mortgage and taxes at the same time.
But as of the end of 2009, they’ve paid off their mortgage and they now will have more money to pay back the town.
Council referred the request from the curling club back to the Administration and Finance executive committee for further consideration.