Forestburg Council: No increase to tax rate

The 2024 Tax Rate Bylaw 3:2024 was discussed and approved with no increase in rates at the regular Forestburg village council meeting held May 23.

Following discussions by Forestburg town council on options for the current tax year, the draft bylaw presented for council’s consideration reflected no change in tax rates for the current year, based on higher than expected property assessments.

It was noted that residents may still see an increase in property taxes paid for residential or business property, but that would result from their properties increasing in value and not from an increase in respective tax rates.

“If your tax bill goes up it is because your property value has gone up, not because your property tax rate has changed” stated Chief Administration Officer (CAO) Dwight Dibben, noting that the tax rate has held steady for the past three years.

“People think that we set the rates, we don’t” expressed Coun. Devon McNabb.

Mayor Dwayne Giroux agreed stating that many people don’t understand that if the property assessment goes up, your taxes may go up.

“You pay more taxes but your property is worth more.”

According to CAO Dibben, a physical inspection is conducted every year on 10 per cent of both residential and commercial properties to assess property value.

The assessment value also takes into account all market transactions, the larger economy and the average cost of replacement.

This year saw an increase of three per cent to the assessed value of properties.

The municipality anticipates an increase in municipal property tax revenues by approximately $33,700 this year which was attributed to the continual rise in assessment values across the Village of Forestburg.

The 2024 Operating Budget approved by ouncil was based on no increase to municipal tax rates in 2024, however an audit revealed an over levy on Residential School Taxi in 2023 of $8,655.19 and $2,700.12 on Non-Residential School Tax.

This discrepancy arose from the delay in finalizing the 2023 Alberta School Foundation Fund (ASFF) tax rates by the provincial government, necessitating a manual adjustment in the proposed bylaw to rectify the over levies.

Council motioned to pass third reading of Bylaw 2:2023 Tax Rate Bylaw with a zero per cent change to municipal tax rates for 2024.

Utility rates
Administration reviewed the costs and revenues related to the Utility Rates Bylaw 4:2024 to ensure the financial sustainability of the municipally owned natural gas system.

Minor increases in the consumption charge and the capital reserve fee were noted.

The proposed difference in monthly infrastructure maintenance fee was unchanged, remaining at $38.65.

The proposed difference in consumption charge was $0.05 raising the rate to $1.80/Gj from $1.75/Gj.

The proposed difference in capital reserve fee was $0.05 raising the rate to $0.35/Gj from $0.30/Gj.

Council motioned to pass third reading of Bylaw 4:2024 Gas Utility Operations and Rates bylaw as presented.

Remuneration Policy
A review of the Remuneration Policy highlighted the need for updates to align mileage reimbursement rates with Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) guidelines with the set 2024 rate at 0.70 cents per kilometre.

The reimbursement rate is determined annually based on the CRA Automobile Deduction Limits and Expense Benefits Rate for business and would apply to members of council, appointed community representatives and village staff.

Administration also reviewed the daily expense limit for meals and recommended an update from the current maximum of $80 per day to $100 per day, the first increase to the claimable meal rates in over three years.

Council motioned to approve the revised current reimbursable mileage rates and update the daily maximum meal claim level.

Cheryl Bowman
Multimedia Reporter
ECA Review

About the author

Cheryl Bowman

Cheryl spent most of her childhood in Stettler, growing up on a quarter section north of town. After graduating from Stettler Composite High School she moved to Calgary where she worked in various industries, attended The University of Calgary and raised a family.

She enjoyed volunteering and contributed in a variety of ways, such as writing articles for the Calgary Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre and covering charitable events as a photographer.

She moved back to Stettler in 2023 where she still has family.