The Town and County of Ponoka are both planning to conduct business as usual despite the newly announced provincial budget which raised taxes on everything from tobacco and spirits to gas and a brought in a health levy while cutting on public expenditure.
Mayor Rick Bonnett said there was little to see as a win or loss in the 2015 Alberta Budget for the town.
“The government’s not going to be a factor in what we’re able to do,” said Bonnett.
His issue is with the education tax requisition. Bonnett wants to be able to use that money for the municipality. “The government pays us nothing to collect taxes on their behalf.”
Starting in 2016-17 the education property tax requisition will be determined annually. Both the town and county will see an increase of one per cent to their education property taxes assessment.
Bonnett says the way the town will be able to see some control over their own taxation is by addressing a desire for change in the Municipal Government Act.
Ponoka County Reeve Paul McLauchlin said the county planned on operating as usual with or without money from the Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI). However, the province’s announcement of $400 million to the fund was looked at favourably.
“I think that it wouldn’t change our budget allocations,” added McLauchlin.
He says the county has one of its largest capital project allocation in years with $8 million planned for a variety of projects. While there is MSI funding, the county is finding they are having to do more projects with less money, he added.
Once the education requisition comes through, taxpayers will have a better idea of what their tax bill will look like. McLauchlin says the real questions will come in the 2016-17 budget.
“It’s hard to do any long-term capital planning,” he said.
As for the county’s plans, McLauchlin has always been proud of the county’s balanced approach to budgets. “It’s a good way to do business. Don’t spend money you don’t have.”