Red Deer residents and businesses can expect property taxes to rise an average 5.5 per cent.
On Monday, Red Deer city council unanimously approved the higher tax rate to help pay for four fire-medics and seven Mounties, including one RCMP position which would be paid through a municipal reserve temporarily.
As well, the city will hire nearly a dozen people so they can serve residents living within 7,500 acres that is within Red Deer County currently. Annexation is expected to become official in September, if the province gives approval.
An average residential property assessed at $300,000 will cost $117 more in taxes this year, bringing the total tax bill to $2,223 from $2,106.
Red Deer Mayor Morris Flewwelling said the tax increase is lower than what it has been for the last several years.
“I think it can be attributed to going through the budget with a very fine-tooth comb, both at council and before it went to council,” Flewwelling said.
Council had earlier approved a 7.05 per cent municipal tax increase, but when blended with the education tax rate the final percent was lowered.
“I think the population will realize that we have done the best we can in getting the taxes to a level that maintain the services but don’t create an excessive tax burden,” Flewwelling said.
“The 5.5 per cent is a blended figure. There are people who will see tax increases greater than that and people who will see their taxes drop.”
For the first time, the city held a March session to get early public input on what the 2010 budget should look like. Council will have a budget workshop soon, but already Flewwelling is anticipating an even tighter budget for next year.
“I’ve already said that there won’t be many initiatives that will be undertaken, other than capital,” he said.
Flewwelling stressed that 60 per cent of each tax bill goes directly to the city, but the remaining 40 per cent heads off to the province.
Tax notices will go out in mid-May with payment due on June 30.