Big Valley council approves budget with one per cent tax hike

Written by Stu Salkeld

Big Valley village council passed their 2023 operating budget that included a one per cent property tax increase. The decision was made at the Feb. 9 regular meeting of council.

Councillors read a report from Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Elaine Macdonald introducing the budget that covers the municipality’s operations for 2023.

“In December 2022, council approved an interim operating budget for 2023,” stated Macdonald’s memo to councillors. “Since that time, the budget has been amended to capture some of council’s comments in December as well as adding new items that have come to light.”

The CAO informed councillors it appeared the property tax increase didn’t need to be as large as expected.

“The interim budget allowed for a three per cent increase to property taxes and the amended budget sees a one per cent increase to property taxes,” stated Macdonald.

“The new budget also sees a two per cent increase (50 cents per month) to the flat rate for water. This will help recoup some of the water loss costs that occur while decreasing the subsidization by taxes for this. Water will be paying for water.

“The budget reflects the increase to policing, the water rate increase and the change to the solid waste management requisition.”

The CAO included in the 2023 operating budget two other items councillors dealt with at the Feb. 9 council meeting, increased recycling costs with a County of Stettler agreement and a hike to regional emergency services.

Macdonald stated that $3,000 was also added to the operating budget for lift station repairs which are still tentative; it’s not certain the repairs are needed.

The CAO also mentioned some good news regarding fire hydrant repairs: it appears the hydrants may not need repair, just some basic maintenance. Macdonald stated she was told the hydrants may only require some gaskets and O-rings and won’t require digging up the pavement.

After looking at the proposed operating budget Coun. Clark German complimented the CAO.

“I think you did an excellent job Elaine,” said German.

He also asked the CAO if she’d had a chance to look into the amount of water Big Valley actually purchased, but Macdonald answered she wasn’t able to do that yet.

German noted he felt the village should be as prepared as possible for water purchases because an unexpected and non-budgeted purchase could have a big financial effect on the village.

During discussion Coun. Amber Hoogenberg asked why numbers show the village’s water usage has dropped year to year.

Macdonald answered the village has had a couple of leaks repaired over the past few years.

Hoogenberg also mused that the water tower has been drained and refilled which may have also played a role.

Councillors discussed the municipal assessor, with Macdonald stating she was very happy with Big Valley’s assessor. The CAO stated the village’s assessor knows the job very well and meets all the requirements of the Municipal Government Act (MGA).

Mayor Dan Houle responded that in his opinion assessments in Big Valley may be a bit too low.

German added that it does seem that Big Valley has a lot of properties assessed at the minimum value, with the CAO pointing out there are 37 in total.

Councillors unanimously approved the 2023 operating budget.

 

Stu Salkeld
Local Journalism Initiative reporter
ECA Review

About the author

Stu Salkeld

Stu Salkeld, who has upwards of 28 years of experience in the Alberta community newspaper industry, is now covering councils and other news in the Stettler region and has experience working in the area as well.

He has joined the ECA Review as a Local Journalism Initiative Journalist.

Stu earned his two-year diploma in print journalism from SAIT in Calgary from 1993 to ’95 and was raised in Oyen, Alta., one of the communities within the ECA Review’s coverage area.