Town’s budget first draft to include split mill rate

by Colin Smith

A split mill rate and tax scenario for Morinville will be included in the budget coming to Council for first reading Oct. 23.

A motion from Councillor Sarah Hall passed unanimously at its October 16 Committee of the Whole Meeting directed Administration to include a scenario in which the mill rate would be split at a ratio of 1:1.1 and rise by .1 each year for five years.

“This would result in a split mill rate of 1:1.5 residential to non-residential by the year 2023, should Council support this increase on an annual basis,” said Mayor Barry Turner. “Part of the long-term tax strategy moved by Council, would see tax revenue scenarios projecting a three per cent residential tax increase annually each year for the same time frame.”

Turner said directing Administration to use this split mill rate to as part of the 2019 Budget, as well as outlining future tax rate projections are part of developing building out a Long Term Tax Strategy for the Town.

“This information will be incorporated into public presentation materials planned for use during the upcoming budget open house, and other documents related to the budget consultation process,” Turner said. “During this consultation Council hopes to hear feedback from residents and business owners to guide Council during the development of the budget.”

The move follows Council earlier receiving a long-term tax strategy “road map” and tax plan scenarios developed by the Administration.

The documents set out taxation issues on which council needed to make decisions, in addition to setting tax rates to provide revenue required to fund long-term needs.

The current policy of charging the same mill rate for both types of property is out of line with most Alberta municipalities, which generally charge a considerably higher rate for non-residential.

The Town has the second-lowest rate for non-residential property among thirteen regional municipalities, while it has the third-highest rate for residential property. It is the only municipality in Alberta with an equalized assessment.

Splitting the rates, resulting in higher tax payments for non-residential property owners, is seen as key to ensuring that Morinville’s finances are sustainable, and that challenges such as inflation growth, service demands and the cost of the multipurpose recreation facility project can be met.