Father and son business partners have lost their bid to convince the City of Red Deer to reduce the amount of property taxes they owe.
Warren Fertig and son Allan, who own trailer business Allan Dale Industries Ltd., took their case before the city’s assessment review board in May. The pair argued that city assessors have overvalued 135 acres of land they own next to Hwy 2 near the city where the tax bill jumped to nearly $30,000 from $7,900 a year earlier.
Allan Fertig told the three-member assessment review board that the city was wrong in assessing 80 acres of land as industrial instead of agriculture. The assessment department based its decision largely on evidence that the land was being stripped of topsoil.
But the Fertigs said the valuable black dirt was being stripped off layer by layer and given away. The soil was not being stripped in a manner to prepare the site for immediate industrial development.
Allan said the problem is the city does not differentiate between land being stripped of all top soil for development and their goal of gradually reducing cover over a period of years to avoid the wasteful practice of dumping good soil in pits.
Last year, the city considered 20 of the 135 acres to be industrial. Assessors increased the industrial portion to 80 acres this year based on the amount of land stripped and the fact the land had not been farmed recently.
The Fertigs contend the land was still being used for agriculture and it was seeded this spring.
In a recent decision, the review board backed the initial assessment, which determined the 80 acres is worth $15.6 million as industrial land. That was reduced by nearly 90 per cent to $1.9 million to reflect that the land has not been developed. The remaining 55 acres was assessed at $15,600 based on farmland values.
The board also supported a $4.5-million assessment on the 10.5-acre parcel where their trailer business is located.
The Fertigs did not lose on all fronts. The board agreed to reduce by half a $13,000 assessment on a narrow strip of land the Fertigs considered near worthless because of its configuration.
The Fertigs did not return calls for comment.
City assessment co-ordinator Rob Kotchon said the Fertigs’ use of the land will be reviewed again later this year. If more land was used for agriculture than the city anticipated, the assessment could be revised.