County passes minor tax increase
Largest portion of jump in taxes due to school requisitions
Barrhead County residents will soon be receiving their property tax notices after the county passed its 2012 budget on May 1.
As was the case in 2011, the county is raising all three of its residential, non-residential and farmland mill rates.
For residential properties, the mill rate will increase 0.1 per cent, to 4.9792 mills. Combined with a 0.9 per cent average market value increase, that brings the overall municipal tax increase to one per cent.
However, when the school and Barrhead and District Social Housing Association requisitions (money the county collects on the behalf of Alberta Education and the housing association) are taken into account, the average residential tax will increase by 3.8 per cent.
For county reeve Bill Lee, that increase is more than reasonable when all the different factors involved in coming up with that figure have been included.
“If you look at the big picture, even with the school tax on top of the municipal tax, 3.8 per cent is about what inflation is,” he said.
Of course, the average tax increase is just that — an average.
For a residential property valued at $200,000 (the average value in the county) in 2011, the total tax paid would have been $1,446.66. Assuming a 0.9 per cent increase in assessed value, bringing the property’s value up to $201,800, the 2012 tax bill would be $1,502.11.
In the event the property’s value remained unchanged, the total taxes owed would only be $1,488.72, which is only a 2.9 per cent increase.
To illustrate further the effect of the 0.1 per cent increase in the residential mill rate, for a home that had a value of $200,000 in both 2011 and 2012, the change in municipal tax paid (excluding the requisitions) would be 96 cents.
According to county CAO Mark Oberg, the largest single increase on a property’s tax bill is the school requisition. Compared to 2011, there has been a 10.5 per cent increase in the school requisition. In contrast, the social housing requisition rate increased only 1.3 per cent over 2011.
When looking at non-residential properties, the municipal tax rate is increasing 0.5 per cent, to 15.5073 mills. When combined with a 0.5 per cent increase in the average market value of non-residential properties, the municipal tax rate will increase by one per cent.
And again, adding in the school and social housing requisitions, the average non-residential tax bill will increase by 1.8 per cent over 2011.
Finally, the farmland mill rate has been increased by one per cent to 14.9671 mills. The assessed value of farmland remains fixed at $20,000, Oberg said, as it’s regulated by the province.
Adding in the two requisitions, and a farmland property will see its tax bill climb by 2.1 per cent.
Oberg said the overall municipal tax increase is primarily to allow the county to continue to put money in reserves for future projects.
For Lee, bringing in a small increase like this keeps the county in good financial shape.
“If you just continually add one per cent to keep your flow moving, it’s not a burden, but then you’re not left behind,” he said, adding that freezing taxes year after year could mean when it’s necessary to raise them again, the jump could be quite large.
In addition, Lee said keeping the increase as low as it is shows good fiscal management on the part of the county.
“If we can get by with just increasing our cost to the taxpayers by one per cent and still cover those costs (staffing, services, etc.), I think we’re doing good,” he said.
In total, the county is collecting $7.6 million in municipal taxes from all sources this year.
In addition to the municipal taxes collected, the county is also collecting $2.19 million on behalf of the Alberta School Foundation Fund (school requisition), which is up from the $1.97 million collected last year. The county is also collecting $20,665 for the Evergreen Catholic school division, up from $19,346 collected last year.
The Barrhead and District Social Housing Association requisition county-wide is $98,078, up from $95,265 in 2011.
Residents have until July 6 to file an appeal of their property assessment, Oberg said.
The first deadline to pay county taxes is Aug. 31, after which point penalties will be applied to delinquent accounts.
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