Town of Stettler councillors met on May 15 to approve this year’s tax rate bylaw after passing the 2018 operating budget the week prior.
The $17.6 million dollar budget calls for a two per cent tax increase to both residential and non-residential properties on the municipal side. After passing an interim budget in the fall, council needed to approve an operating budget in order to tax properties for 2018.
“It’s really important to have a modest budget, but also a responsible budget,” said mayor Sean Nolls after the vote. “The tax increase we did put in was two per cent before school and senior taxes, which gives us the opportunity to continue doing all of the projects we need to do, and not fall behind on the infrastructure.”
The budget also provides an additional $1,024,825 in available operating capital, on top of the $17.6 million allotted for expenditures this year.
Outside of the scope of town operations, council also committed funding this year to a number of organizations and initiatives.
Joint landfill – $369,024, a $5,952 increase or $1 per capita; seniors housing support – $314,393, a $24,031 increase; Board of Trade – $258,607, $7,439 increase; library – $237,244, a $5,910 increase; FCSS – $196,435 an $815 decrease; Parkland Regional Library – a $48,330 increase; Heartland Youth Centre – $40,000, which is consistent with 2017; museum – $34,000, a $2,000 increase; handi-bus – $25,000, a $5,000 increase; physician recruitment – $22,500, which is consistent with 2017; and Heartland Beautification – $22,200, which is consistent with 2017.
The Town of Stettler also maintained business licence fees at $150 per year for residents and $350 for non-residents.
Council also financially supports new doctors in the community through their recruitment and relocation process, and continues to plan for possible future upgrades at the Stettler Hospital in meetings with provincial officials.
School and seniors taxes
The municipal portion makes up about 69 per cent of the overall property tax bill. Another 27 per cent of the bill helps pay for education through the Alberta School Foundation Fund, while the remaining four per cent is used for seniors housing.
These payments to schools and seniors bring the overall tax rate increase to 2.7 per cent for residential homes, and 2.86 per cent for non-residential properties.
Overall assessment values in Stettler have increased over 2017 by $9.4 million, or 1.24 per cent. Depending on a home’s individual assessment value, this will determine what a property owner’s taxes will be.
Homes assessed at a 0.89 inflation rate can expect to see the two per cent increase, while homes assessed under that value could see less than a two per cent increase.
The town’s utility rates also factor into the overall capital available in the 2018 operating budget. During the operating budget talks, council discussed the need to keep an eye on the maintenance budgets impacts in the coming years for the water and sewer systems, and the garbage and recycling programs.
As of Jan. 1, the water rate increased by a cent from $2.78 to $2.79 per cubic metre. The flat water fee remained at $10 a month, while the flat sewer fee increased to $22.25 from $22. Residential garbage pick-up also increased by $0.25 to $23.25.
Individual financial impact
A residential home assessed at $274,230 dollars could expect to see a municipal tax levy of $1,824, or a $33 dollar increase.
Utilities on this property would cost about $1,310 dollars a year, or a $49 increase. With school and senior taxes applied, this totals an additional $74 over last year.
“It’s always important to look at what the full impact of those increases are, because you look at some budgets will have a small tax increase, but then the water and sewer rates may go through the roof,” said Nolls. “So it’s important to look at the full scope of it.”
Town of Stettler residents can expect their tax notices to be mailed out by the end of May. Payments are due by June 29, or residents will face a three per cent interest penalty.
Property taxes not paid by July 31 will have a nine per cent penalty applied, which will increase to 12 per cent after Dec. 31, 2018.