Taxes to increase this year; one per cent municipal rate increase

By Rob Vogt Local Press Writer
Taxes will go up for ratepayers in the Town of Claresholm with about a one percent increase in property taxes as well as increases to the education and lodge requisition which are not controlled by town council.
At its April 25 meeting, town council passed first reading of its property tax rate bylaw.
For non-residential properties, there will be a 4.92 percent increase with 0.88 percent of that being property tax and the remainder education and lodge requisitions.
For residential properties, there will be a 2.44 percent increase with 1.09 percent of that being property tax and the remainder education and lodge requisitions.
The town is required to collect education tax on behalf of the provincial government and revenue on behalf of the seniors’ lodge who set those two rates.
“The (municipal) tax rate is revenue for the municipal operations,” said Abe Tinney, the town’s chief administrative officer.
Tinney noted the tax rates are not all quite set.
The town annexed property from the Municipal District of Willow Creek in 2017. Part of the annexation agreement is those lands will be taxed at the M.D. rates for the next 25 years or until the land is developed.
The town also annexed land in January of 2021 with a similar agreement those lands will be taxed at M.D. rates the next 10 years.
However, Tinney advised council the town had not yet received the M.D. tax rates to include in the bylaw.
He then went on to discuss pressure on the town budget that has required the tax increase.
The amount the town must collect for policing costs increased by 50 per cent again this year.
The town also lost $85,000 in provincial funding through the Municipal Sustainability Initiative operating grant.
“That essentially means more money from the municipal tax payers to fund operations,” Tinney said.
He said the bylaw was there for council to review and give first reading.
Mayor Chelsae Petrovic said after first reading passes, the town should post information for people to understand the tax increase.
Coun. Rod Kettles agreed a one-page document would be excellent.
He pointed out there is an increase but the municipal portion, set by council, accounts for about half the increase.
“I think we’ve been responsible as we possibly can be,” he said, to maintain services.
Coun. Kieth Carlson said ratepayers need to understand the provincial government has been downloading costs like crazy on the town.
However, he wondered if council could offset that increased cost in a different manner.
Coun. Brad Schlossberger said at this time for the next two years, council needs to be very conservative in increasing the tax burden to residents. He pointed to inflation, as well as increasing gas prices, insurance rates, and electricity rates hitting ratepayers.
Council then approved first reading of the property tax rate bylaw with all of council in favour except Carlson and Schlossberger who were opposed and