The City of Lacombe passed their 2019 tax rate bylaw, keeping increases at the promised consumer price index (CPI) of 2.8 per cent.
“That points towards a genuine commitment from both administration and council to stay on track and keep increases manageable and below the consumer price index(inflation),” Mayor Grant Creasey said. “I am not going to suggest luck is a factor — it is in fact more good management — but there were some items that did go our way, which is welcome.”
The 2.8 per cent increase will result in a typical house assessed at $380,006 seeing a total tax increase of $138, or about $12 per month . The typical non-residential property assessed at $773,069 will see an annual increase of $361.
The bylaw will result in $20.06 million in tax revenue, which breaks down to being $14,741,652 to the municipal reserve; $5,040,368 to the Provincial School Foundation; $161,193 to the St. Thomas Aquinas RCSRD; $112,046 to the Lacombe Foundation Requisition; and $1,335 to the Designated Industrial Requisition.
The City collects taxes on behalf of each of these organizations, but the mill rates of each remain outside of municipal control.
Mayor Grant Creasey during council on May 13th pointed out that budgeting for education taxes can often be difficult given that the numbers on not available at budget time.
“It was unfortunate where we are in a position that we can’t plan for what a potential increase may be,” Creasey said. “It is very unfortunate that every single municipality in Alberta faces the same thing where it is just guess work.
“It makes it very difficult an it becomes unfair, not only to the ratepayers who are responsible for the final bill, but also for administration to manage. It is not a fair way to operate.”
The current bylaw passed is based on historic averages of the Education Property Tax, which has ranged from 1.56 per cent to 8.36 per cent. This has resulted in a estimated 2.6688 per $1,000 (2.4706, 2018) of assessment for residential and 3.8972 per $1,000 (3.5988, 2018) of assessment for non-residential in 2019.
The Lacombe Foundation Requisition, collected by the City, goes towards basic level of housing accommodations for those in need in the community.
Creasey would like to see a taxation model in the future that allows municipalities to budget and said that the AUMA and municipal partners continue to advocate for a more clear model.
Creasey added the City is doing everything in their power to keep taxes below inflation in 2020.
“It is very easy to keep the budget to whatever number the public demands they need to be,” he said. “On the flip-side, there may need to be an adjustment to the level of service provided. As must as I hate saying that, it is the truth. I believe that we can. Whether or not we can do it indefinitely remains to be seen. It has not been easy, it has been a challenge to do so and I expect it will continue to be.
“We will do everything in our powers to keep our promise to the ratepayers in the City to keep tax increases at or below the consumer price index numbers.”