Budget error returned as tax break in Rocky

What a difference a few key strokes can make — $383,000 worth of difference to be exact.

What a difference a few key strokes can make — $383,000 worth of difference to be exact.

A simple error in transferring school requisition tax amounts during the preparation of Rocky Mountain House’s 2009 budget meant nearly $400,000 more in taxes was collected than needed for the $13.3-million budget.

“We punched in one wrong number back in the spring when we were doing the accounts and the computer system did a beautiful job of spitting out the wrong information from that point forward,” Mayor Jim Bague said on Tuesday. “It calculated the wrong amount for the entire town from then on forward.

“The good news is we got $383,000 more than we needed, which we can now apply towards this year’s taxes.”

That means a tax break for many local residents.

Instead of facing a one per cent tax increase, residents whose assessments stayed the same can expect a five per cent decrease when they open their bills in the late spring.

The glitch came to light as work began on the 2010 budget. “We knew we had a zero or a one per cent increase budget for this year and when we started entering the figures, they weren’t matching up with last year,” said the mayor.

“So that got us looking back to last year’s figure (to find out) why not.

“Then we found out. Once we knew we were looking for something, it was relatively easy to find,” he said. “But you could have looked for a million years and never seen it if you weren’t expecting it.”

The money was never spent but was allocated to a reserve.