Kneehill County approves tax rate bylaw, notes property values climbing

·3 min read

Kneehill County council unanimously approved its 2023 tax rate bylaw after discussing the factors, including burgeoning property values, that add up to a resident’s tax bill. The decision was made at the May 9 regular meeting of council.

Councillors read a report from Property Tax Officer Caroline Siverson who stated the municipality’s 2023 operating budget of about $24 million was recently approved, meaning it was now time to consider the bylaw that helps pay for that budget.

“The 2023 operating and capital budget, which was passed at the March 28, 2023 council meeting requires that $24,474,002 be collected from ratepayers to maintain the municipality’s operations,” stated Siverson’s report to council.

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“Council committed to maintaining both existing levels of service and responsible tax growth. The resulting budget ensured expenditures that are under the control of council have been restrained, reduced where reasonable, and are well under the general inflation rate.

“Council’s past practices and prudent financial planning have positioned the county well. The county has not experienced an operating budget deficit, has no reliance on borrowing, has maintained or enhanced service levels, maintained roads and other infrastructure and still will be able to maintain competitive tax burdens in the future.”

A big part of Siverson’s presentation to council was the fact that the average property value assessment in Kneehill County has increased by 7.2 per cent and noted that councillors wanted to ensure a 5 to 1 tax ratio of highest non-residential tax ratio to lowest residential tax ratio, “...In efforts to improve allocation of tax burden across classes.”

Taking this property value growth into account, Siverson stated county council, when setting 2023 mill rates, decreased some.

“Residential tax rates were decreased by 3.73 per cent and non-residential by 6.47 per cent,” stated the memo. “While the individual impacts on homeowners will be dependent on their assessed values and any changes in assessment; the typical hamlet home will see an increase of $30 annually and acreages an increase of approximately $69.

“Farmland has regulated assessment (does not change unless the property size changes) and will experience a 20 per cent tax rate increase, resulting in an annual increase per quarter section of approximately $66.”

Siverson pointed out there is a note in the property tax bylaw for properties that fall below a minimum value and the tax those owners pay will increase to $125.

She also pointed out Kneehill County property tax bills will also include requisitions from other authorities, including education tax from the Government of Alberta, which Kneehill collects but has no control over.

Coun. Carrie Fobes in essence asked if the average tax increase of $30 for a hamlet home could vary much.

Director of Corporate Services Kinza Barney responded that, essentially, a property tax bill depends greatly on the assessed value of that property; the $30 increase was based on a hamlet home that has a value of $150,000 which is considered the average for such a home in Kneehill County.

Coun. Debbie Penner asked for some clarification that hamlet tax rates declined, acreage tax rates declined but farmland tax rates increased. Barney responded the average increase in property value of 7.2 per cent was a factor in the drop to certain tax rates.

Coun. Ken King stated he wanted to point out some property owners don’t understand how Kneehill County can drop tax rates but tax bills still increase and the affect that property values play in that.

Penner added she liked the video that county staff recently posted explaining how tax bills are calculated.

Councillors unanimously passed all readings of the 2023 tax rate bylaw to bring it into effect.

Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, East Central Alberta Review

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