MD council considering tax hike

Foothills: Mill rate increase proposed

By: Don Patterson

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Apr 16, 2014 06:00 am

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Foothills MD councillors took the first step to increasing property taxes for the majority of the municipality’s residents for this year.

MD councillors approved first reading of a bylaw to increase the municipality’s mill rate on April 9, a move that will result in an increase of as much as $200 for almost three-quarters of MD residents.

The mill rate will rise by 2.42 per cent for residential, farm and non-residential properties this year. The increase on the MD resident’s tax bills ill range, given the wide difference in value between properties in the MD.

However, 73 per cent of properties will see their bill rise by less than $200 and less than half will see an increase of less than $100.

“It’s very hard to give a typical increase for taxes because of the different market areas,” said Bill Robinson, MD municipal treasurer.

MD Reeve Larry Spilak said the increase is reasonable and the MD did the best it could to keep the rise in the mill rate to a minimum.

“I believe it is, you have your cost of living, your cost of doing business that just creeps up on us every year by one, two per cent without even looking,” he said.

The mill rate bylaw will come back for second and third reading next week.

Of the 9,500 properties in the MD, if the increase is approved 2,784 will see their tax bill rise by less than $100, 2,363 will see an increase between $101 and $200 and 1,108 will see an increase between $201 and $300. As well, 277 properties won’t see any change in their tax bill and 1,516 will see a decrease.

Councillors also passed the MD’s 2014 budget on April 9.

The budget also estimates $59.6 million in municipal revenues, with $47 million for operating expenses, $9 million for capital projects and $3.6 million is going towards long-term debt payments.

Public works and school requisitions are the two biggest areas of the MD’s spending, making up 32.3 per cent and 38.9 per cent respectively

Spilak said 90 per cent of the MD’s tax revenues go towards providing services for the public, and only 10 per cent goes to administration.

The MD relies heavily on property taxes to pay for its operations. Non-tax revenues only make up 26 per cent of its funding sources, while 1.45 per cent comes from the MD’s reserves. The remaining comes from tax sources.

Spilak said he believes the MD does a good job of managing its revenues, but he said it could lower the burden on homeowners if it’s able to grow its population and broaden its tax base to attract more businesses and industry.

At present, 71 per cent of the MD’s tax revenues are from residential properties.

“As our population grows, there’s the possibility of lowering our taxes simply through numbers and that is one of the reasons why we look at growth on the residential side,” said Spilak. “More importantly, we keep pushing for some growth in our industrial corridor and our commercial corridor and that’s where we can offset our taxes.”


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