Council passes balanced budget tax bylaw

Director of Finance
Roland Schmidt

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

Your town property tax bill may already be in the mail. Well… probably not that quickly, but the process was set in motion by Slave Lake town council last week, with the passage of the tax rate bylaw.
According to the plan, if everybody pays their taxes, this will collect what the town needs to run things in 2017, and not a penny more.
Those costs were set out earlier in the 2017 budget, which – as already reported – aims at getting the business of running the town done for the same amount it cost in 2016.
That’s the bottom line. No tax increase. However, that does not mean everyone’s tax bill will be exactly the same as last year’s.
“Some tax bills will increase slightly and some will decrease slightly,” said new director of finance Roland Schmidt in his report for council on April 4, “but the overall increases and decreases are relatively immaterial.”
What determines whether an individual tax bill is up, down or the same is assessed property values. These were generally down last year, by an average of 7.2 per cent, council heard. Therefore the mill rate had to be adjusted upward to result in the same amount of taxes as last year.
Councillor Julie Brandle expressed some surprise that property values had only dropped by that much. In her experience as a local realtor, she said, it was more like 25 per cent. However, that was the information from the assessor that does the job for the town.
The school and seniors’ requisition portions of the tax bills are another matter, and not in the town’s control. According to Schmidt’s report, the seniors’ requisition is actually down by 3.7 per cent from 2016 ($308,837). The school requisition, on the other hand, is up 5.2 per cent ($2.6 million).
The operating budget for the town for this year is estimated at $20.067 million. Property taxes (assuming all are collected) will account for $7.86 million of that. The rest is expected to come from fees and transfers from other levels of government.

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