Turner Valley residents facing tax hike
Turner Valley: Town approves 2014 budget
By: Tammy Rollie
| Posted: Wednesday, May 14, 2014 06:00 am
Although Turner Valley residents will experience the highest tax hike in four years, the increase isn’t expected to put much of a dent in the pocket book.
After months spent in budget deliberations, Turner Valley town council approved a residential tax increase of 1.9 per cent over last year, which means the owner of an average home worth $325,000 will pay $3,422.19 in taxes, an increase of $64.25 over last year.
“The last four years of taxes we did a couple of years of no increase and last year was 0.95 (per cent) and this year 1.9,” said Turner Valley Mayor Kelly Tuck. “It’s not like it’s huge money. I would hope that they would be pleased that there is not a large increase.”
Tuck said the increase closely resembles the inflation in the cost of living, which is about two per cent.
Each year when the budgeting process takes place, Tuck said staff are conscious of the fact that such a high percentage of the tax base is residential, as the town has a small number of industrial and commercial businesses in the community.
The average business, estimated at $350,000, will experience an increase of 2.75 per cent, or about $116 over 2013.
“We have a very small commercial base here,” she said. “When you live in a municipality when the majority of the tax base is residential it’s hard on people and we understand that.”
Turner Valley resident Christie Currie agrees, saying if there were more businesses in the community the taxes wouldn’t be so high for residents.
“It would be nice to see more business in Turner Valley,” she said.
“I think every penny counts.”
Like many residents in the community, Currie and her husband made Turner Valley home for the lifestyle it provides, even though her husband drives north of Calgary to work.
“We live in this small town because it’s good for our children,” she said.
While the municipal tax portion increased for residents, taxes collected on behalf of the Foothills School Division, Christ the Redeemer Catholic Schools, the Sheep River Library and the Foothills Foundation dropped four per cent. These taxes represent about 37 per cent of a typical residence’s property tax.
Tuck said this is great news for Turner Valley residents.
“Decreases in third party requisitions and an increase in assessment due to growth have helped to ensure the increase in homeowners’ taxes is minimized,” she said.
This year’s low increase in taxes will reflect a level of service that will experience little change as the majority of items on the Town’s priority list this year are related to flood recovery to pick up the pieces from the 2013 flood, said Tuck.
“The (main) thing the council agreed to look at the next two years is flood because we have so many flood projects,” she said, adding the projects will likely be covered by provincial funding but will require employee dedication. “It might not be ratepayers’ dollars, but it is ratepayers’ employees. It consumes a lot of time.”
Among the flood recovery projects are reclamation for Decalta Bridge, upgrading the water treatment plant to supply water to Black Diamond and Turner Valley after Black Diamond lost its own plant in the flood, repairing Imperial Road and connecting homes in Calkins Place to the town’s sewer lines and decommissioning their septic tanks, Tuck said.
Other approved projects for 2014 include the construction of a spray park expected to open in September, replacing equipment and vehicles including a fire truck in a shared venture with the MD of Foothills, building a day use area for the first phase for a new campground and constructing a new baseball diamond.
Turner Valley council previously approved relocating the 22-site Hell’s Half Acre Campground and nearby baseball diamonds from east of the Dr. Lander Memorial Outdoor Swimming Pool to a larger piece of land on the south side of Turner Valley to expand the campground and ball diamond area and utilize the current sites for future development of the downtown square, which is proposed to include a farmers market, plaza, visitors’ information centre and shops.