Budget passed with two per cent tax increase

Following discussion regarding various economic factors within the 2019 Operating Budget and numerous average municipal property tax class options, a total Operating Budget of $19,154,675 and an average municipal property tax class increase of two per cent for residential and non-residential was created.

Many of the councillors were in agreeance that the budget was not only legible for residents but open in terms of sensitivity.

“Not only is it thorough and clear and understandable, it’s transparent,” said Coun. Malcolm Fischer.

“Anybody can pick up this document up thanks to our excellent administration.”

Updated non-tax revenue and expenditure forecasting from the previously approved 2019 Interim Operating Budget has resulted in an increase of $32,232 being available for this year’s capital budget.

With town council’s approval of a two per cent property tax increase in both classes, the amount estimated as available for capital (from operating) in 2019 will increase to $1,076,350 from $1,044,118, a increase of $32,232.

The Seniors Housing Support will get a boost of $16,915, the library an additional $8,458, the joint landfill at $17,856, Board of Trade at $34,610, and the Heartland Youth Centre an additional $10,000 in funding.

Flat water rate remains at $10 per month but the water rate has increased one cent, the sewer rate increased $0.25 from $22.25 to $22.50, the garbage rate increase of $0.25 from $23.25 to $23.50, and recycling rate increase of $0.25 from $6.25 to $6.50.

Overall Assessment values for 2019 assessment purposes increased by $3,726,790 (0.48 per cent) over 2018 including $4,769,760 (0.62 per cent) due to new construction/linear growth and property assessment decreased in market value of 0.14 per cent ($1,042,970).

In considering the fair, equitable and transparent treatment of properties in both tax classes, a base split municipal tax rate is calculated and then utilized to ensure that the cumulative amount of municipal taxes collected from preexisting properties in each property tax class is the same amount as was collected in the previous year.

Following this, Council’s desired and approved tax rate change(s) for each class are independently applied and a new split tax rate is calculated for each class.

In this way, council has achieved a relatively accurate outcome from each property tax class without any municipal tax burden shifting between classes due to assessment valuation variations.

The 2019 Interim Operating Budget previously authorized a two per cent tax increase for municipal purposes from both tax classes with the school and housing authority estimated tax impacts being extra.

Since then the actual 2019 housing requisitions has been received.

Due to the Federal election coming later this year, the Provincial Alberta School Foundation Fund (ASFF) payment has not been finalized by the Province.

Administration has estimated the ASFF payment to increase by four per cent based on prior year’s summaries.

Drive through coming to you

KFC Stettler has applied for a development permit to demolish the former grocery cart, the complete wrap and renovation of the building including a new drive through as well as the redesign of the site including a new access from 48 Avenue.

The application expressed a desire to permanently close the access on to Highway 12 which is a follow-up condition to Alberta Transportations requirement.

There are currently parking curbs in place to block access.

By recognizing this condition to close the access off, administration created a plan for future sidewalk connections from the intersection of Highway 12 and 56 West towards Dairy Queen.

A condition of the development permit will be to replace/install standard sidewalk and curb and gutter from the Highway 12 and Highway 56 Intersection to the northwest property line with an estimated cost of $15,000.

A $5,000 economic development incentive for the new northerly 25 metres of sidewalk was accepted by council.

Stettler RCMP report

Stettler Detachment Staff Sgt. Phil Penny came to council with updates on municipal and provincial RCMP statistics.

Police visibility by working with commercial vehicles, bylaw enforcement and the Big Valley train has been a target.

They have chosen to conduct one shift showing presence each while the popular tourist attraction arrives in Big Valley which has been noted as welcoming and beneficial from residents.

As an internal requirement, they are focusing on mental health by ensuring members are not burnt out. K-Division has demanded each detachment conduct at least two community engagement sessions per year which Stettler’s has already doubled.

“We’ve had good success getting prolific offenders in jail as of late,” continued Penny.

About half of their supervised persons have done well with their restrictions directed by the crown while some breached their probation quite extensively, pushing three back into remand for further help.

An overall reduction in property crime was reportedly down 40 per cent, all “driven by people are listening and paying attention”.

One request by Mayor Sean Nolls asked if there would be any way to get bike patrols back on the streets to limit property crime but Sgt. Penny said the detachment is already stretched thin with computer work and simply lack of time.

In 2018, the Stettler detachment lost four members but have slowly been gaining members back. They are only waiting on one new member to fill their roster as they are waiting for their house to sell in another community.

“The way staffing works is really interesting where we are almost like an NHL trading game,” said Sgt. Penny. “So if I give Nova Scotia my 10 years experience member, I get three of your recruiters for the next year. It’s a bit of a trade that way.”

Council passed a motion to acknowledge the RCMP multi-year financial plan.


ECA Review

Terri Huxley

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ECA Review