Alix village council heard a report about their 2024 municipal budget and that it’s likely local property tax rates will not increase next year. The report was made at the Nov. 1 regular meeting of council.
Village Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Michelle White presented councillors with an interim 2024 operating budget that stated total revenue or monies taken in by the municipality next year are estimated at $2,808,924.14 with expenses next year estimated at $2,808,924.14.
The same report stated the current year’s operating budget brought in $2,851,387.14 in revenue to pay municipal expenses of $2,851,387.14, meaning 2024 was projected to be slightly lower in revenue and expenses than 2023.
The CAO stated during discussion that village staff were not entertaining any changes to the mill rates at this time. However, White pointed out there are other factors at play in the calculation of a property tax bill that the Village of Alix has no control over, including assessment value and provincial requisitions.
Provincial requisitions, including the ever-important education tax, are set by the Government of Alberta and placed on local property tax bills which are collected by municipalities then forwarded to the provincial government. The municipality acts only as a collector and has no authority over requisitions.
Hence it’s possible that a municipality such as the Village of Alix could keep its mill rates identical year to year yet see property tax bills increase because property values grew while provincial requisitions were also hiked.
Councillors discussed differences between the 2023 operating budget and the draft 2024 operating budget’s numbers. White responded the Village of Alix has had “significant properties” removed from its tax arrears list.
As well, the 2024 budget proposes a 2.2 per cent cost of living adjustment (COLA) to municipal staff salaries; White stated the Village of Alix uses the WCB as a guide for COLA adjustments.
Coun. Ed Cole stated he was quite proud of the fact the Village of Alix hasn’t had to increase taxes in several years or go into debt for the major projects it’s undertaken.
The CAO chipped in at that point by noting the Village of Alix had reserves set aside to pay for certain projects, and the municipality had to dip into those reserves to a fair amount recently.
She noted councillors during budget deliberations will likely have to discuss whether or not to contribute to reserves again.
Under the Municipal Government Act (MGA) municipalities are required to approve a draft budget for the next three years before Dec. 31 of the current year.
Readers should note that municipalities face challenges under this requirement because they usually don’t exactly know what provincial government grants will look like the following year nor the changes, if any, coming to provincial requisitions.
Most municipalities rely greatly on provincial grants for things like infrastructure projects.
Hence, draft budgets passed before the Dec. 31 deadline are usually subject to revision the following spring when more information from the provincial government is made available.
Alix council unanimously approved the draft operating budgets as they were presented.
Local Journalism Initiative reporter