By Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – The average Morinville resident can anticipate paying an extra $128 in property taxes this year now that Morinville Town Council has given second and third reading to its 2012 tax bylaw. The average home, which rose from $275,968 in 2011 to $281,957 in 2012, would see a property tax bill of approximately $2,526, an increase of 5.34 per cent over 2011 figures.
But that increase is not entirely due to municipal taxes. Morinville’s Chief Financial Officer, Andy Isbister, said Council’s 2012 budget saw the need to raise just shy of $7 million in taxes to meet 2012 operating and capital needs. That tax requirement represents a 4.05 per cent increase to rate payers, slightly higher than the 4 per cent identified in Budget 2012. The remainder of the 5.34 per cent increase is derived from a larger-than-anticipated school requisition through the Alberta School Foundation Fund (ASFF), together with an increased Sturgeon Foundation requisition for 2012.
School taxes are determined by the province and are collected by municipalities. Council had anticipated a 2 per cent increase to both the ASFF and Sturgeon Foundation requisitions; however, those figures came in at 12 per cent and 12.33 per cent, respectively.
The bulk of the increase is the school tax requisition for Morinville, a $2.6 million requisition that is $300,000 greater than what the province requested of the community in 2011. The Sturgeon Foundation requisition increased from $87,863 in 2011 to $98,696 for 2012.
In fact, those figures have been steadily increasing each year since 2009. The school requisition increased by 10.4 per cent in 2010 over 2009, 11.75 per cent in 2011 over 2010, and 12 per cent in 2012 over 2011 figures. Sturgeon Foundation’s requisition jumped 21.9 per cent in 2010, 68.21 per cent in 2011, and another 12.33 per cent this year.
Of the $2,532 the average Morinville property owner will pay in 2012, $663.31 will be for school taxes. Another $26.31 of the tax bill will be for the Sturgeon Foundation requisition for 2012.
During debate, Councillor Lisa Holmes suggested Council look at the trend in requisition increases when considering the 2012 budget.
Councillor David Pattison questioned how to better predict the ASFF requisitions during budget deliberations. “Do other municipalities consider that in their process, and should we be considering that in our process,” he asked.
Councillor Gordon Boddez said Council should not muddy the waters with respect to school requisitions. Rather, Council should consider the municipal tax side of things and be accountable to it. “We have to be accountable for what we do, and they have to be accountable for what they do,” Boddez said of the municipality and province’s respective roles.
Morinville’s property assessments topped $1 billion for the first time in 2010. That figure increased to $1,056,211,070 at the end of 2011. Isbister attributed the growth to new properties and improvement to existing properties as well as market adjustments. The Town says real growth in 2011 accounted for a 3.99 per cent increase in Morinville’s total assessment; market growth accounted for the additional .76 per cent of assessment growth.
Second and third reading of the tax bylaw passed with a 6-1 vote of Council; Councillor Gordon Boddez casting the only opposing vote.
Now that Council has approved the mil rates for 2012, assessments will be prepared and mailed out in late April or early May. Taxes will be due the end of June.