by Colin Smith
Council has decided, and the property tax rate for Morinville homeowners and businesses will be going up 2.6% this year.
Passage of the 2020 Property Tax Rate Bylaw that sets the increase took place at Council’s regular meeting Apr. 28, following an attempted amendment limiting the tax rise to 2%.
That was the increase originally anticipated in the 2020 Operating Budget passed in December, with the higher number resulting from lower than expected municipal growth.
The amendment was proposed by Councillor Stephen Dafoe, who put the cost to the Town in terms of lost revenue at $54,000. Savings to residential taxpayers would be about five dollars per year.
While proposing the .6% cut Dafoe said he would love to see a zero tax increase, with the impact the current events are having on people’s financial situations.
“I know that during the budget process we made tremendous cuts and there are some temporary staff changes as well,” Dafoe said. “So I know that trying to take 54 grand more out of the equation while maintaining service levels would be difficult. I don’t think it’s insurmountable.”
Councillor Lawrence Giffen, who opposed the motion, said that he realized people were hurting but the approximately .50 cents per month taxpayers would benefit wouldn’t change much.
“I don’t think that is a huge hardship and it makes such a difference to the future of the Town,” he said.
Mayor Barry Turner said cutting the tax increase in these uncertain economic times could limit the Town’s ability to provide needed support in the future, and also hamper its efforts to achieve a balanced budget.
The voting on the amendment resulted in a three-three tie, as Councillor Sarah Hall was not in attendance due to a family matter. Procedurally, a tie results in the defeat of the motion.
The motion was supported by Dafoe and Councillors Scott Richardson and Rebecca Balanko, with Turner, Giffen and Councillor Nicole Boutestein opposed.
After the defeat of the amendment, the main motion to provide second and third reading of the Tax Bylaw passed unanimously.
For the average homeowner, with an assessment of $332,696 in 2020, taxes will climb $65.52 per year to $3,393.13.
That increase includes rises of $64.14 for municipal taxes and $1.51 for education taxes while the Homeland Housing requisition for seniors’ facilities has declined by 13 cents.
Non-residential commercial property owners will see an average tax increase of $182.66 and the average increase for industrial property will be $303.55.
Tax notices will begin going out Friday; however, due date for payment of taxes will be extended from June 30 to August 31, as provided for by a further bylaw passed unanimously by Council Tuesday.
On September 1 a 7.5% penalty will apply to accounts in arrears, and current taxes that remain unpaid as of December will be subject to a nine per cent penalty on January 1, 2021.
“We encourage those who can continue to pay on a monthly basis to do so,” said Chief Financial Officer Shawna Jason.
Further information is available on the Town website, www.morinville.ca. Information can also be requested by email at email@example.com, phone 780-939-4361 or Fax 780-939-5633.