Lacombe County approves budget and tax rate increase

Lacombe County has approved the final 2015 budget and lowered the anticipated tax rate increase to 2%.

Lacombe County has approved the final 2015 budget and lowered the anticipated tax rate increase to 2%.

Council approved the final 2015 operating and capital budgets and set the municipal tax rates during their meeting on May 14th.

Council had previously passed an interim budget this past December in order to continue general operations until the final budgets could be approved, once assessment values were confirmed and the provincial education requisition was received.

For 2015 all tax brackets, including residential, farmland, non-residential and machinery and equipment, will all see a 2% increase.

The approved 2015 operating budget includes revenues and expenditures of $58,620,600. The 2015 capital budget includes $27,794,290 of projects.

The provincial education requisition property tax rate for 2015 is 2.50 mills for both residential and farmland, roughly a 3% decrease. For non-residential, the rate was set at 3.67 mills, a 5% decrease.

The annual levy from the Lacombe Foundation decreased from the amount last year by 2.93%.

“We have some good news for you,” Lacombe County Commissioner Terry Hager told council. “Our 2015 assessment is approximately $86 million higher than what was projected in our 2015 interim budget. That increase is primarily a result of higher than projected residential and industrial assessment.

“I’m pleased that council authorized a municipal property tax rate reduction from the 2.75 per cent proposed in the 2015 interim budget to two per cent. A combination of increased assessment, higher than anticipated transfer of unexpected funds for projects from the 2014 budget to the 2015 budget and a reduction of contingencies in a number of areas such as fuel has allowed us the leeway to meet current demands with a lower than projected tax rate increase.”

Hager said some recent council issues that had risen have also been incorporated into the operating budget.

An additional $12,500 was added for the Lacombe Airport study, $208,040 was added for repairs to the two bridges on the Alix North Road and $25,000 was also added for legal and mediation fees regarding the County’s appeal of the Sylvan Lake Municipal Development Plan. An increase of $88,120 was marked in the Joint Economic Area Agreement payment to the Town of Blackfalds due to additional assessed amounts in the Aspelund Industrial Park.

A large decrease of $266,470 was also noted for operations, agriculture and peace officers fuel costs due to a decrease in cost and an elimination of a 5% price contingency.

“We also had some good news from Alberta Education,” said Hager.

The total provincial education requisition for the 2015-16 year was $2.253 billion, which shows an increase of approximately $147 million from last year.

“Council’s goal is always to manage the natural, financial and physical assets of the County in order to obtain maximum value from these resources,” said Reeve Paula Law. “The 2015 operating budget, capital budget and municipal tax rates have been established in a manner which provides fro the most efficient and cost-effective delivery of County services and programs for our citizens.”

The 2015 tax notices will be sent out in the coming weeks.

Lacombe County also offers a Tax Installment Payment Plan (TIPP) allowing taxpayers to pay property taxes on a monthly basis.

The program has been offered since 2004 and has around 570 participants.

Lacombe County is responsible for collecting taxes from property within the County, but tax notices also reflect taxes collected for Alberta Education and the Lacombe Foundation.