Back in December when city council was finalizing the 2018 municipal budget, it was noted there was going to be a property tax increase of one-mill.
This week at the city council meeting numbers were released in the proposal and showed residential property assessments have gone down, but mill rates went up.
“The assessments did go down a little bit, on average 1.6 per cent. So, right there we needed a 1.6 per cent increase in taxes, simply just to stay even from last year. I don’t need to remind anyone that on Jan. 1 there were additional costs on the Alberta side of the city that was levied on a provincial level, that we have no control over,” explained Mayor Gerald Aalbers.
According to a chart shown at council found above, a property that was assessed in 2017 at $350,000 would show a 5.12 per cent decrease in its assessment this year, while the total mill rate would go up 11.41 per cent.
The chart notes this will result in a total increase of 5.70 per cent, and the monthly impact being $14.45.
While education mill rates calculated by the Province of Alberta have decreased 2.5 per cent for residential.
“At the end of the day, it is a mathematical function. The city needs $35-million, and we have X number of billions of dollars of assets, that there is a mill rate calculation, and the mill rate is up a little bit this year,” said Aalbers.
This year the city took land sales from the budget, which used to go towards operations, and is now putting that money into reserves, as well as 20 per cent of the water and sewer money into reserves.
“We have seen the rebalancing of the books, I guess would be the terminology I would use, I think it’s very important that we try to make sure people understand what it cost to operate the city while building reserves. We also know an operation reserve, $177,000 for a city this size, in my opinion, is not acceptable,” explained Aalbers.
Aalbers noted there was an increase in most things, only to be able to maintain service levels.
“That’s the challenging part I see to this job is trying to balance providing what the communities looking for, what they want, what they come to expect, yet who is going to pay the bill?” he said.
From the Alberta and Saskatchewan budgets this year, there was no significant new dollars coming from them.