Council cuts own perks to avoid raising taxes

Coronation town council

Coronation town council approved the 2016 budget at their special budget meeting on Mon., May 16 with no increase to the municipal tax rate however both the Paintearth Lodge and education tax rate increased due to increased levies from both.

Deputy Mayor Jackie Brigley and Councillor Vickey Horkoff spearheaded council’s attempts to cut the 2016 operating budget to avoid raising the mill rate by the proposed one to two per cent at their regular meeting on Mon., May 9.

The main focus of discussion for the proposed cuts included sending fewer councillors to the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA) conference and only demolishing two of the four upcoming demolitions scheduled for 2016.

The two demolitions that remained on the books were the two “worst”, the home on Norfolk Ave. and the home on Victoria Ave.

As reported by CAO Sandra Kulyk in the agenda minutes, because of Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants (CICA) changes to financial accounting requirements, which now require municipalities to report depreciation of tangible capital assets, accounts have been included in the 2016 draft budget to account for estimated annual depreciation expense.

The total annual depreciation expense budgeted for 2016 is $401,861.

The draft budget does not fully fund this expense and a deficit budget is presented as a result.

The deficit is proposed to be offset by a transfer from the contingency operating restricted surplus and unrestricted surplus accounts in the amount of $400,000.

Tax rates/assessment

The draft operating budget is presented with an assumption of a two per cent increase being made to the  municipal tax rate.

The town’s total residential assessment has increased by 0.6 per cent as a result of inflation in 2016, and the total non-residential assessment has increased by 0.3 per cent as a result of inflation.

New development only accounts for a 0.2 per cent increase in the town’s residential assessment base.

Declining assessment values for non-residential properties has resulted in a 1.4 per cent decrease in assessed values in 2016.

The total combined assessment increase for residential and non­ residential properties is $262,610, which is an increase of 0.35 per cent over 2015 values.

If the town maintains no increase to the municipal tax rate, the average  increase to commercial tax levies would be 1.13 per cent ($133.34 per year) and the average increase to residential tax levies would be 1.25 per cent ($43.89 per year), based on a sampling of municipal properties.

If the town considered a two per cent increase to the municipal tax rate, the budget deficit is reduced by approximately $20,715.72, and the average increase to commercial tax levies would be 2.77 per cent ($264.38 per year) and the average increase to residential tax levies would  be 2.5 per cent  ($84.18 year).

The town has approved residential and commercial tax incentive programs to promote new development.

A total of $35,385.15 will be rebated as per the terms of the commercial property tax incentive in 2016.

An analysis of the total tax levy for the Town of Coronation for the tax years 2010 to 2016 shows the source of the total tax collected for 2016 is budgeted to be approximately 83 per cent municipal, 15 per cent education levy and 2.3 per cent Paintearth Foundation levy.

The analysis also shows the source of the total municipal tax collected is approximately 60 per cent residential and 40 per cent commercial.

In 2014, the ratio of residential to  commercial tax levies was 61 per cent residential and 39 per cent commercial.

Salaries and benefits

In December, 2015, council approved a 1.4 per cent cost of living increase to the  town’s salary and  wage grid.

In combination with employee grid advancements and with increases to contracted wages, council fees and fire department  honourariums and  wages, the total  budget for employee salaries and wages has increased by 3.7 per cent in 2016.

Employee benefits have increased by a total of 8.98 per cent as a result of increases to extended health benefit premiums and Workers Compensation Board premiums.

Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI) funding

The town has received its 2016 funding confirmations for the MSI program.

The town’s MSI operating funding has decreased by 9.74 per cent ($6,169) in 2016. MSI capital funding decreased by 3.66 per cent ($9,041).

The Basic Municipal Transportation grant component has remained unchanged, as the grant is allocated on a per capita basis.

Youth programming request

Brad Johnson requested an opportunity to appear before council to request a discounted rate for the Lions Rec Centre to hold a youth dance.

Council discussions on the subject   oscillated between wanting to support the youth programming yet needing to not only cover their own costs, such as security and the cleaning fees for the venue but also the precedent they would be setting by allowing one group a discounted rate.

The $100 for a full day only required a $5 fee from 20 attendees which to council did not seem like an excessive amount.

Johnson was invited to make a formal presentation to council.

Replacing memorial benches

Council determined that there would be set styles for the memorial benches currently located along with Coronation walking path.  The current benches will remain in place however any future benches will need to be consistent with the specified styles to ensure the areas remain visually appealing.

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