Lacombe County to raise taxes

Residential property assessments climbed four per cent in Lacombe County last year and many residents can expect to see a similar size increase in their 2009 tax bills.

Residential property assessments climbed four per cent in Lacombe County last year and many residents can expect to see a similar size increase in their 2009 tax bills.

But county Reeve Terry Engen said assessment increases varied widely across the county and some will see higher tax increases this year and a few may even see taxes drop a little.

Engen said the county basically preserved the status quo in the tax rates — or mill rates — unanimously approved by council on Thursday.

“I think we’ve done the right thing on holding the line on the mill rate,” he said.

Landowners expecting to see big decreases because of the economic downturn will be disappointed.

Property assessments were established on July 1, 2008, before most properties reflected the impact of a faltering economy.

Larry Piep, the county’s chef assessor, said residential assessments were up 6.5 per cent last year.

About four per cent was due to increases in property value and two per cent reflects new building.

Some areas saw much bigger increases. Mirror led the pack with assessments soaring 30 per cent.

The steep increase reflects growing interest in building homes in the hamlet, where property had been valued very low for quite some time. Residential areas north of Lacombe saw assessment increases in the eight to 11 per cent range and many properties near Sylvan Lake were up 10 per cent.

On the other end of the scale, properties in the Burbank area near Blackfalds dropped in value slightly. The decreases were largely an adjustment after sharp increases in previous years.

Councillor Rod McDermand was skeptical of some of the assessments.

County commissioner Terry Hager said they are based on actual property sale prices and county assessors do not have any leeway on how numbers are interpreted.

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