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County council budget leaves taxes alone

Most taxpayers within Ponoka County won’t see an increase on their property taxes this year.

Most taxpayers within Ponoka County won’t see an increase on their property taxes this year.

“There is effectively no change in people’s municipal property taxes,” said county CAO Charlie Cutforth. “We’re not looking to increase anybody’s individual tax bill.”

Mill rates won’t be decided until the March 26 meeting.

However, there was a $405,000 increase in county’s school requisition, meaning a $30 increase for most taxpayers.

While there were some grants lost due to provincial cuts, the county’s budget proposes a surplus of approximately $1 million. However, this money is being put in reserve for cash flow purposes and cannot be used for community donations.

“It’s not that council no longer wants to support them,” explained Cutforth. The county has already delegated $1.2 million in community contributions.

The surplus is a result of the county postponing one of its projects budgeted for last year. “Surplus came out because we did not proceed with the paving of the Bluffton landfill access road,” said Cutforth.

It was decided before the road could be paved its base needed upgrading.

Rather than take the surplus out of reserve for paving, council just decided to budget the project for this year.

The loss of the Summer Temporary Employment Program grant, which gave the county an annual $7,600, was a change to the county’s revenue.

This is also the last year of the Gas Rebate Program, in which each municipal government is given back a percentage of the money the province collects from fuel sales.

With the program ending, the county, as of 2014, will no longer receive $481,000.

“We will either have to find some other way of finding the revenue or cut some of our expenditures,” said Cutforth. Ponoka County has just over $30 million in expenditures.

Cutforth says the county hasn’t made any cutbacks in the services they provide and both the towns of Ponoka and Rimbey will see an 11-per-cent increase in annual recreational contributions.

Other budget factors and department contributions include:

• $3.3 million for the road program

• $1.3 million for chip sealing

• $400,000 toward a new public workshop in Crestomere

• $500,000 for a new compactor for the Bluffton landfill

• Industrial assessments increased by $530,000

• $13 million in linear and machinery and equipment assessments

• Total Agricultural Service Board revenue is $163,788

• Total county revenue is almost $30 million

• Administration expenditures is approximately $1 million

• Capital expenditures equal approximately $2.3 million

• Agricultural Service Board expenditures total $854,822

• And approximately $17 million in total taxes collected for municipal purposes.