Town looking at 1.5% residential tax increase at first reading of 2021 budget

by Colin Smith

Residential taxes in Morinville would go up by 1.5% in 2021 if the Town’s proposed Operating Budget were approved as is.

Town Council gave first reading to the Budget and 2021-46 Capital Plan at its  regular meeting Tuesday.

However shortly after the Budget and 2021-2046 Capital Plan was approved, administration was tasked with finding ways to get the tax increase down to 0%.

The Consolidated Operating Budget presented by Corporate Services Director Shawna Jason at the meeting has been under development by the Administration for the past four months.  Council first saw the result at its Budget retreat, October 8 and 9.

Planned expenditures total about $22.8 million, an increase of 2.5 per cent over the 2020 budget. The Budget reflects revenues of some $22.9 million, up nearly 1.4 per cent over the previous year. Overall, there is a budgetary surplus of $167,000 for 2021.

The rise in revenue comes mainly from increased municipal property taxes. That is based a 1.5% municipal residential tax increase and a 6% jump in non-residential taxes — with a 1:1.15 ratio of residential to non-residential coupled with a 1.5% growth projection.  Other factors include expected higher franchise revenue and utility increases.

Under the proposed budget, the owner of an average residential home valued at $332,696 could expect to see a $37 tax increase, resulting in a $2,536 property tax bill for 2021.

For an average commercial property valued at $858,697, the business could expect a $7,530 property tax bill, which makes for a $433 increase for 2021. A business will see a $720 increase in the tax bill for an average industrial property valued at $1,426,999, for a bill of $11,792.

The Town of Morinville’s Capital Plan has been extended from 20 to 25 years, with anticipated spending over the period of $174 million, an increase of $48 million over the previous plan.

In 2021, proposed general infrastructure investments total $5.1 million, while a total of $345,000 worth of utility infrastructure investments are planned

Following approval of first reading Councillor Stephen Dafoe proposed a motion calling on the Administration to come back to Council with a list of items from the Operating Budget that could be removed to decrease the proposed 1.5% tax increase to a 0% increase.

Supporting his motion, Dafoe invoked Alberta’s poor economic and employment situation, stating that while he generally feels 0% municipal budget increases are unsustainable, now is the time to “hold the line.”

“We all know we will be making some cuts to this budget,” he said. “I would prefer our Administration take a look that and give us some suggestions rather than us individually saying that we should cut this and cut that.”

Mayor Barry Turner spoke against Dafoe’s motion, contending that a 0% tax increase would be detrimental to Morinville’s route to achieving financial balance.

“At this point in time it’s important to be honest with the community in terms of whether we are going to meet out goal that a 0% increase is possibly not responsible based on our longer term fiscal outlook,” he said.

The motion passed six to one, with Turner opposed.

The Budget and Capital Plan will go back to Council for further discussion and second reading and further discussion at its November 10 regular meeting, with third reading scheduled for November 24.

A Budget open house scheduled for November 5 has been postponed, with a new date yet to be determined.

The view the Budget or for information go to Morinville.ca.

Our coverage of water and sewer rates can be found here.

 

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  1. Give it a break. At least for now the town does not need to be replacing things that are getting near the end of life. Wishful items like curb extensions, new walking trails, and tennis courts are not a necessity. At least for one year stop with the tax increases and stop with the utility increases. People have enough on their plate with covid and the economic down turn. Vehicle and house insurance premiums have jumped, provincial cutbacks hurt (so far have cost me at a minimum an extra $700 a year), and groceries are predicted to jump due to covid. Provincial and federal deficits are going to cost individual tax payers. I am a pensioner on a fixed income. Others due to covid, oil prices, or cutbacks are either working for less, not working, or unlikely to get a raise. Even if it is only for just one year – give us a break.

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