Ponoka residents face 2.44 % tax increase

With the announcement of the 2013 provincial budget, municipalities have had to make changes to their own budgets.

With the announcement of the 2013 provincial budget, municipalities have had to make changes to their own budgets. But they are relatively minor for Ponoka residents, explained Betty Quinlan, director of corporate services.

She told councillors of the changes March 26 during their regular meeting.

Residents will see a 2.44-percent increase, approximately $45 per $300,000 home; businesses will see an increase of 1.93 per cent or $48 per $300,000 assessment. “It’s a very modest increase.”

The change has resulted in $183,000 in additional taxes for the town.

There is $13.3 million in the operating budget and $6.7 million in the capital budget. For the latter, $2.5 million go toward the completion of 2012 projects such as the lift station upgrade for flood proofing and the continuation of the automated water reading. The new town hall project also has $451,500 set aside in this budget.

There is $4.1 million toward new projects such as $200,000 taken from reserves for cemetery land development and $250,000 for completion of the interior and exterior of the Hudson’s Green Activity Centre. There is also $500,000 set aside for a new RCMP building.

Some adjustments have had to be made after the Government of Alberta announced its 2013 budget.

The removal of the STEP grant, which helps municipalities employ summer students, had to be changed in Ponoka’s budget but Quinlan has applied to a federal grant program. “We’ve added $30,000 to our summer student program.”

Quinlan is still waiting on grant approval.

Another modification to Ponoka’s 2013 budget was to add $200,000 for the lift station floodproofing. There was not enough money in last year’s budget to allow the project to move forward, she said.

There are also two more capital projects; the first was an additional $55,000 to pay for lagoon aeration — the total budgeted amount is $280,000 — and $42,800 for the installation of an alternate electrical feed in 60 Street and 48 Avenue.

“Those were the only changes we made to the budget. The total operating budget is about $13.3 million and the capital is $6.653 million,” Quinlan explained.

Residential and commercial mill rates increase

The 2013 residential mill rate has increased to 6.12, compared to 5.99 mills in 2012. Commercial has increased to 8.26 compared to 7.82 mills last year.

Quinlan feels 2012 benefited Ponoka with residential development. “And the split between residential and non-residential; 80-20 (per cent) is a really good split, so we’re sitting right were we should.”

The Alberta School Foundation requisition increased by $21,000 to $2.131 million; $210,000 of that goes to the St. Thomas Aquinas Roman Catholic School division.

“Their increases are considerably smaller than they were in last year’s (requisition),”said Quinlan.

The Government of Alberta has changed the way education property taxes are calculated; school tax assessments used to be averaged throughout the province to help communities with fast growth.

If a booming municipality had a higher assessment they would be assessed on a lower basis, explained Quinlan. “Because they moved that averaging and capping formula.”

“That’s why you’re hearing all of this from different places about $300 or $400 per household,” she said. “Now we’re only being assessed on our actual assessment. So our assessment has only gone up $20,000.”

The Town of Blackfalds is seeing an increase of almost $673,000 to their education property tax. “Ponoka is fortunate in this instance.”

Residents have seen a decrease in property tax assessment of 0.87 per cent as well, this is another reason the education property tax is low. Commercial property tax assessment decreased by 3.49 percent.

Quinlan does not feel this is a negative sign for the town. Real estate prices were relatively high in recent years and she believes the numbers are beginning to balance out.

“The prices were obviously inflated…You’re starting to see just a settling of prices,” she explained.

A $300,000 home last year will now be worth $297,000. “It’s probably more realistic.”

The Rimoka Housing Foundation requisition increased by 1.3 per cent or $89,803.

There was new assessment increase of $11.2 million but the decrease in market assessment was $9.9 million with a total assessment increase of $1.3 million.

Residential property owners will see an overall tax levy increase of $3.7 million while the commercial levy is $1.2 million.

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