A Fort McMurray resident has said that some homeowners are financially benefitting from insurance payouts following the wildfires that destroyed thousands of homes last year.
Following a proposal that the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo cancel property taxes for Fort McMurray residents whose homes were affected, resident Justin Ellis told CBC News, “There are people who lost their homes getting brand-new everything and taking extravagant vacations.”
Meanwhile, there are others in “dire straits” whose homes weren’t touched by the wildfire, Ellis added, suggesting that the tax break would be unfair.
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Cllr. Sheldon Germain put forward a motion to cancel the 2017 municipal portion of property taxes for all residents whose homes were destroyed or badly damaged by the wildfire and remained uninhabitable as of January this year.
Germain said the move would not be a “huge hit” to the municipality, but could be a “huge help” to homeowners.
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The municipality would lose about $1.3 million in revenue if it implemented the tax break, he said.
The council voted to delay the motion, giving them more time to study the potential effects of the move.
Ellis expressed worries that the municipality needs the property-tax revenue to maintain essential services.
“These all cost money, whether these homeowners live there or not,” he said.
Local businessman Marty Giles, who lost six properties in the wildfire including his own home, said he would likely benefit from the tax break, but said blanket tax relief might hurt the municipality.
“If 2,000 people don’t pay tax, it makes no sense that [the] burden goes to homes of people who are still standing,” Giles told
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