By Stephen Dafoe
Sturgeon County – The average Sturgeon County homeowner is looking at an increase of roughly $98 in property taxes in 2012. That’s the verdict after day one of Sturgeon County budget talks. Some member of County Council met with administration early Wednesday morning for the first of a series of budget discussions, looking at the overall picture and some more detailed examinations department by department.
The morning started out with a 13.9 per cent increase based on a projected 2012 budgetary shortfall of $3,577,770. However, some proposed adjustments would trim that shortfall by $1,667,687, leaving a 7.42 per cent increase to taxes. That figure is made up of 6.03 per cent operating increase and a 1.39 per cent capital increase.
The recommended reductions are largely in labour areas. It is being proposed the county reduce its seasonal staffing by four employees: two from corporate services and one each from infrastructure and public services. Two of five vacant positions would remain unfilled through 2012 – one each in engineering and planning and development. Additionally, a reduction in staff conferences and training allowances would help make for a leaner budget.
If Sturgeon County is able to hold their tax increase to 7.42 per cent, it is estimated the increase in municipal taxes would be $98 for 2012 based on the average County home being valued at $420,520. This would increase municipal taxes to approximately $1,409 instead of the current $1,311 for the average property.
A document circulated at Wednesday morning’s meeting shows the average Sturgeon county tax payer paying $1,311.39 in 2011, compared to $2,725,14 in Morinville and $2,964.83 in St. Albert.
Although administration is confident municipal taxes will go up $98 for that average County home owner, when seniors and education levies are factored in based on a 4 per cent and 1 per cent increase, respectively, it is anticipated the average County home’s total taxes would increase by $142.
For farmland based on the average assessment of $40,000, it is expected municipal taxes would increase by $22 for 2012. Non-residential taxes based on a $1 million property would see a $678 increase.
Infrastructure represents 43 per cent of the County’s proposed budget, a budgetary component administration said Wednesday was in the neighbourhood of 63 per cent a decade ago. Administration costs account for the next largest chunk of the County budget at 16 per cent, followed by utilities at 12 per cent.
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Council and administration will continue to meet to look at the budget with feedback from councillors used to form a more detailed draft of the proposed budget by Nov. 28. Council is expected to discuss and debate that budget at its Dec. 13 meeting.