$97 K electrical bill error addressed in Summerland

The Municipality of Summerland will bill electrical customers to correct a residential energy credit.

The Municipality of Summerland will bill electrical customers to correct a residential energy credit, mistakenly given to electrical customers in 2012 and the first three months of 2013.

On Monday evening, municipal council passed a resolution to send bills to recoup the amount of $97,073.

The credit was mistakenly given to 519 farm accounts and 163 home business accounts.

The provincial government had introduced the residential energy credit to offset the increase in cost to consumers caused by the harmonized sales tax. Before the harmonized sales tax was introduced, residential energy was not charged the provincial sales tax.

An audit by the Ministry of Finance, Consumer Taxation Audit Branch determined the municipality had mistakenly given the credit to customers who did not qualify for the rebate.

The error affected farm and business use along with residential use on the same meter.

The farm use accounted for $82,507 while the business component was $14,566.

A staff recommendation called for the municipality to write off the amount, due to the nature of the event and the time frame it covers.

Coun. Richard Barkwill disagreed with the recommendation.

“I don’t see how we can walk away from nearly $100,000,” he said. “It’s just too much.”

“You’re going to hear a great hue and cry about this,” said Coun. Janet Peake.

Linda Tynan, chief administrative officer for the municipality, said there are a few farms and businesses which will receive high bills, but the majority of the affected accounts will be billed $100 to $300 to make the correction.

Coun. Erin Carlson said the error, which began more than three years ago, should have been addressed earlier.

The resolution was carried with Peake, Carlson and Coun. Erin Trainer opposed.