Budgets, fees and taxation policy coming up at Council this week

by MorinvilleNews.com Staff

Morinville Town Council is set to convene for its first meeting of November at Town Hall on Tuesday, November 14, at 4 p.m. Among the items on the agenda are discussions surrounding the Fees and Charges Bylaw, Operational and Capital Budgets for 2024, and updates to the Taxation Policy.

Fees and Charges Bylaw: Balancing Cost Recovery and Affordability

Council will deliberate on the 2024 Operating Budget, which includes estimated revenues derived from various fees and charges levied by the Town. The proposed Fees and Charges Bylaw aligns with the Budget Principles and Guidelines Policy adopted by the Council earlier in the summer of 2022. This policy emphasizes setting fees to support the cost of services, known as cost recovery, while considering factors such as regional competitiveness, affordability, and utilization.

During the first review of the draft bylaw on October 10, 2023, Council posed clarifying questions, leading to the attachment of a Questions and Answers document. Changes, including the reinitiation of the community bus service for 2024, have been incorporated into the draft bylaw.  Administration says the proposed updates ensure fees align with service costs, regional benchmarks, and community needs.

2. Operational and Capital Budgets for 2024: Council Faces Key Decisions

Council will deliberate on approving the 2024 – 2026 Operating Budget, the 2024 – 2033 Long-term Capital Plan, and the 2024 – 2028 Long-term Operational Plan. The Council previously provided direction during the October 17, 2023, Committee of the Whole Meeting, making recommendations for funding scenarios and addressing business cases.

The proposed operating budget reflects Council’s previous decisions on business cases, such as off-highway vehicle use, community sports memorabilia display, Morinville Leisure Centre hours of operation, community bus service, and snow clearing service levels. Council’s decisions have financial implications, including adjustments to the budget for the Morinville Museum and an increase in expected revenue from programs and services at the Morinville Leisure Centre.

As presented, a home in Morinville valued at $350,000 (considered the average) will see taxes rise $213.08 per year or $17.76 per month.

If passed as presented, the average commercial property ($650,000) would see taxes rise $1,491.39 per year or $124.28 per month.

3. Updates to Taxation Policy

The Taxation Policy, adopted in October 2022, comes under scrutiny as Council has provided new directions, specifically accelerating the residential to non-residential tax ratio to 1:1.33 for 2024 and 1:1.5 for 2025. The updated policy reflects these changes, with a recommended adjustment to the non-residential to vacant non-residential tax ratio from 1:1.5 to 1:1.25. Administration suggests this alteration to balance incentives for development while maintaining reasonable tax rates for non-residential properties.

Following approval, the new information will be used to calculate the 2024 Tax Bylaw. 

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