Town council approves 2020 tax rates

By Rob Vogt
Local Press Writer

There will be about a three per cent increase in municipal taxes this year with two per cent of that increase due to a requirement by the provincial government for all municipalities to pay a portion of police costs.
At its May 11 meeting by video conference, Claresholm town council approved the 2020 tax rates after hearing a report by Marian Carlson, the town’s chief administrative officer.
She explained property tax is the main source of revenue for funding municipal operations.
Property tax rates can be established once council approves the annual operational and capital budgets and the annual property assessment roll is prepared.
Tax rates are set annually, calculated by dividing the required tax levy by the corresponding property assessment.
The 2020 property taxes are based on the 2019 property assessments as of Dec. 31, 2019.
In addition to property taxes, municipalities are required to collect taxes on requisitions they are required to pay.
Those are the education requisition, or education tax, and the housing management body requisition, or the amount paid for seniors’ lodges. Each of those tax rates must be identified separately on the tax notice.
In 2017, the town annexed land from the Municipal District of Willow Creek. Part of the annexation agreement was those annexed lands would be taxed at the M.D. rate for the next 25 years, or until the land is developed.
The M.D. council had not yet passed their tax rates, but provided a copy of what was being presented to their council at their next meeting on May 13, so the town could proceed with its tax rates immediately.
Carlson noted the 2020 provincial budget reflected that the town needed to raise additional revenue, with two items having an immediate impact on the tax rate.
The town will have to pay a portion of policing costs, which are about $74,000 in 2020, equating to an approximate two per cent increase in taxes.
Council had discussed the idea of listing the policing cost separately on tax notices, to illustrate the town had no control over this.
However, the Municipal Government Act does not allow it to be shown on the tax notice as either a requisition or a special tax.
Conversely, a flyer will be sent out with tax notices to explain the changes.
The other impact is a provincial cut in grants in lieu of property tax which amounts to about $11,000.
This was, essentially, the equivalent of property tax the provincial government paid for their own properties in town.
Carlson went on to say the town saw an increase in non-residential, or commercial/industrial, assessment of 3.8 per cent, and a three percent increase in residential assessment. In both cases, the growth was primarily inflation.
She said due to this assessment growth, municipal tax rates increased 0.6 per cent for residential properties and there was a 0.2 per cent decrease for non-residential properties.
A breakdown of where $100 of property goes is:
• Council, $2.35;
• School requisition, $25.47;
• Lodge requisition, $2.48;
• Policing, $1.57;
• General administration, that is items such as insurance, audit and legal fees, and administration wages, $12.64;
• Community grants, such as family and community support services, day care, transportation society, animal rescue society, community centre and so on, $3.23;
• Fire department, $4.01;
• Bylaw enforcement, $1.05;
• Public works – equipment, $9.67;
• Roads and streets, $12.06;
• Airport and cemetery, $0.36;
• Economic development, $3.85;
• Planning and development, $2.89;
• Recreation, that is the arena, aquatic centre, golf course, parks, $11.41;
• Library and museum, $6.74.
Council then approved all three readings of the tax-rate bylaw.