By Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – Property owners will pay about $100 more on their spring tax bill than they did last year once Council passes this year’s tax bylaw. Council gave first reading to the 2013 Property Tax Bylaw during the Mar. 26 Council meeting. The bylaw lays out the amount of tax the municipality must collect from property owners to satisfy its own $7.2-million in budgetary needs as well as a $2.9-million assessment for the Alberta School Foundation (ASFF) and a $103,000 requisition from the Sturgeon Foundation, the group that runs Morinville’s Heritage Lodge.
Morinville taxes residential and non-residential property, machinery and equipment, lineal properties, and farmland. 2013 property taxes are based on 2012 assessments. Those assessments grew by approximately $24 million over the last year. Real growth declined by .04 per cent, dropping $5.1-million from the previous year.
According to Morinville’s Chief Financial Officer, Andy Isbister, assessed value for the average property in Morinville dropped from $281,957 in 2012 to $281,856 for the 2013 taxation year. Based on those numbers the average property will pay $1,858.72 in municipal taxes this year, a 1.25 per cent increase over what they paid in 2012.
Municipal taxes only part of the bill
Though the municipality has come under the tax increase Council anticipated when the budget was finalized in December, additional line items will form part of the final spring tax bill.
The Sturgeon Foundation requisition has increased by 3.68 per cent, an amount that will raise the average property tax line entry from $26.37 to $26.86.
School taxes are determined by the province and are collected by municipalities. Morinville’s ASFF requisition has gone up 13.66 per cent this year when a 20.5 per cent non-residential increase is offset against a 12.48 per cent increase on the remaining taxable properties. It translates to a 10.5 per cent increase in school taxes for the average residential ratepayer.
Council predicted a 2 per cent increase in the ASFF requisition this year and also anticipated the same increase in 2012. However, those figures came in at 12 per cent, $300,000 greater than what the province requested of the community in 2011 and $353,344 greater than the amount asked for in 2012. School requisition figures have been steadily increasing each year since 2009. The school requisition increased by 10.4 per cent in 2010 over 2009, and 11.75 per cent in 2011 over 2010.
Isbister’s report to Council prior to first reading indicated the province’s March 2013 budget presentation suggested ASFF requisition would increase to cover 32 per cent of the actual costs of funding Kindergarten through Grade 12 in the province.
Increase about equalizing school funding throughout province, MLA says
Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock MLA Maureen Kubinec said this year’s school requisition increase is the result of the province levelling the playing field throughout the province.
“People were paying different rates across the province; some towns were paying way too much and some towns were not paying enough,” Kubinec said. “They [the province] have done a process to try and equalize it so that everybody was sort of paying their fair share of that education tax. This is the year that those mitigating circumstances ended and everybody’s paying the same. Some went up and others went down.”
Kubinec said Morinville’s went up but other communities went up as high as 50 per cent. “This is the year it’s going to be a level playing field,” she said, adding she understands the increase will be hard for many ratepayers to accept. “We’re trying to correct an old inequity, and it is going to be painful the year that we do it.”
Bottom line impact
With the increase in municipal taxes, Sturgeon Foundation and ASFF requisition, the average Morinville property owner will see their spring tax bill increase by $93.05 this year, a 3.68 per cent increase over 2012.
Second and third reading of the 2013 Property Tax Bylaw will occur in April with property tax assessments mailed out in late April, early May.