Original Published 11:31 May 20, 2022

By Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Stettler county council approved a three per cent tax hike across the board as they also approved their 2022 revised budget. The decision was made at the regular council meeting May 11.

Councillors heard a presentation from Christa Cornelssen, director of corporate services, about the revised budget which was originally approved by council in Feb., 2022. 

“The budget incorporates a three per cent increase to the tax rate,” stated Cornelssen in her memo to council.

Cornelssen stated the revised budget included assessment changes, a revised tax rate bylaw, requisition changes, grant adjustments and carry-forward projects. 

She also stated the revised budget addresses something the auditors flagged, that being the county has kept some Public Works projects in the operations section; that won’t be done any longer and instead those projects will show in capital accounts.

Councillors unanimously approved the revised 2022 budget.

Tax rate bylaw

After approving the revised budget, councillors heard a presentation from Tax Clerk Sharon Larsen regarding the bylaw needed for collecting the money to pay for that budget. 

“After evaluating the 2022 budget, council has incorporated a three per cent municipal tax increase to general revenue based on the 2021 assessment and increase to the minimum levy from $50 to $75 generating an increase of approximately $13,344.22,” stated Larsen’s memo to council.

“A total of $367,611.78 is generated from the three per cent increase and the minimum tax levy increase from $50 to $75 generating an additional $13,344.22 tax dollars.”

Larsen went into detail on some of the pressures facing the municipality, particularly policing costs. “(Twenty twenty two) will be our third year funding the new policing model, which was announced by the province in Dec., 2019. The policing model introduced an increase to all taxpayers on their municipal tax bills. This item, which will appear again on 2022 tax bills, must be collected by the county and remitted to the province.

“Municipal taxpayers can further project what appears under ‘policing’ on their 2022 tax bill, to double over the next two years with the province having collected $145,321 from Stettler County in 2020; and then increasing to $218,138 in 2021; $290,643 in 2022; $436,277 in 2023 and $436,277 in 2024. After 2024, the amount is expected to adjust with cost of living.”

Larsen also mentioned the issue of unpaid property taxes and how it’s connected to provincial requisition; property owners are charged for provincial requisitions like education tax with municipalities fronting the money to Edmonton, but some property owners decline to pay their property taxes and there are few or no avenues to collect. 

The municipality has paid out that requisition and may not, or in some cases cannot, be reimbursed.

During discussion Coun. Les Stulberg stated Stettler County is coping with the extremely high inflation pressures and felt the three per cent increase was conservative and that it is applied evenly across the board.

Coun. Justin Stevens stated the tax rate was discussed and debated at great length and added that some vital things like fuel simply continue to climb in price.

Coun. James Nibourg noted a tax increase will address things like the major price increases for things like herbicide that Stettler County uses for weed control.

Councillors unanimously passed all readings necessary to bring the 2022 tax rate bylaw into effect.

This item reprinted with permission from East Central Alberta Review, Coronation, Alberta