Red Deer County Council approved a zero per cent tax increase, at its regular May 9 meeting. Council approved second and third readings of the Municipal Tax Rate Bylaw for 2017 – which is meant to help County residents deal with continued economic challenges faced in Red Deer County.
Major projects entailed in this year’s budget include road construction – which includes two roundabouts – for Gasoline Alley, various routine bridge repairs and contributions to the Delburne Agriplex.
Heather Surkan, Director of Corporate Services with Red Deer County, noted that there will be $3.3 million invested in bridge repairs in this year’s budget.
“Gasoline Alley is a huge one – there’s a lot of work to be done in there. The timing with provincial work on the access to the QE2 to Gasoline Alley works well for us, since it’s being done in advance of the Winter Games,” noted Surkan. “There will be many people going to Red Deer, so you want to make sure your infrastructure is in place, to manage the additional traffic and flow of people.”
A media release from Red Deer County stated that taxes on individual properties will vary, based on market value assessment. The release stated that residential municipal taxes will be $374.06 per $100,000 in assessed vale – the same rate as in 2016. Non-residential municipal taxes will be $1,100.55 per $100,000 in assessed value – also the same rate as in 2016.
The release indicated that a non-residential property assessed at $500,000, for example, would pay the same amount in municipal taxes for 2017. Levies for Community (0.4000), Environmental (0.1590), and Protective Services (0.5000) will remain unchanged from 2016, as well.
Red Deer County is working with a $74 million budget, down slightly from 2016. Surkan said that the County’s assessment values ended up declining this year, due to diminishing market value for property, adding that “this economy was a little harder hit, so houses aren’t being sold as quickly.
“So that is what is leading to an overall decrease in our assessment,” she added.
Surkan noted that the average ratepayer – depending on the market value of their house – will likely see a decrease in overall taxes, because of market values decrease in the economy of Central Alberta, and the tax rates stay the same, the amount they will be taxed will decline.
Although assessment values took a hit, Surkan noted there are reasons outside of that, that the County held the line on taxes. These reasons include the fact that Red Deer County has received more in Municipal Sustainability Grants, this year, than it budgeted for.
“We were about $500,000 short of what we budgeted for in the fall. However, when we were budgeting, we budgeted low for our Municipal Sustainability Grants – we weren’t sure we were going to get the same kind of funding from the province,” explained Surkan. “We budgeted $5 million, but we got the same amount from the prior year, which was $6.2 million.”
In addition, many projects are coming in under budget in the County – this has also contributed to the budget balancing that allowed the County to hold the line on taxation.
Surkan said that with the decline in the economy, there has also been a decrease in the costs of construction, “so, we’re getting more bang for our buck. Our prices have gone down, so we’re able to do more.”
About $44 million of the County’s budget comes from taxation – money that will be used to fund everything from maintenance of roads and infrastructure, to water and waste management. Also covered in the budget are agricultural and environmental services, community services, fire, patrol and emergency management.
Taxes for Red Deer County residents are due on June 30, 2017.