Lacombe County taxes rise

Lacombe County has boosted its residential tax rates by four per cent and farm tax rates by just over five per cent

Lacombe County has boosted its residential tax rates by four per cent and farm tax rates by just over five per cent.

Council unanimously approved this year’s $42.4-million operating budget and a $22.8-million capital budget on Thursday.

The impact of tax increases will vary greatly across the county.

For instance, the owner of a rural home with detached garage near Alix valued at $347,460 will see their total property tax bill jump 9.8 per cent to $1,600 from $1,458. A lakefront property at Kuusamo Krest valued at $967,170 will have a $4,454 tax bill, down 2.6 per cent from a year earlier when it was $4,572.

Farm property increases also can vary greatly, depending on the area and other factors. For instance, the owner of 160 acres with a residence near Mirror valued at $314,770 can expect a 9.5 per cent increase to $1,505. The owner of a full section with a home near Lacombe assessed at $956,750 may only see a 2.1 per cent increase.

The total property tax bill includes municipal and education taxes and a requisition to the Lacombe Foundation, which operates homes for seniors.

The county’s non-residential tax rate will go up 2.75 per cent. A tax paid by industry for machinery and equipment will go up 4.56 per cent.

Lacombe County, which has major petrochemical facilities at Joffre and Prentiss contributing taxes, will get nearly 52 per cent of its assessment from machinery and equipment taxes.

County Reeve Ken Wigmore said the municipality faced a significant increase this year in the amount it provides to the foundation to operate two lodges in Lacombe and Eckville.

The foundation also oversees seniors apartments in six communities and 15 social housing units in Lacombe.

The foundation reluctantly passed on a $440,000 budget shortfall this year to its supporting municipalities. Lacombe County took the biggest hit, seeing its contribution to operating costs jump about $100,000 to $315,000. Add in bills to help pay for lodge improvements and the county’s contribution will be just under $409,000 this year.

Among the late changes council had to approve was $131,590 more for fuel costs caused by pump prices. Fuel costs hit road and train construction projects the most.

Councillor Rod McDermand questioned how the county determined what to charge its industrial taxpayers.

County commissioner Terry Hager said the tax rate is designed to raise enough money to meet county needs while keeping rates fair and competitive. The county’s rates are considerably lower than some jurisdictions, such as Fort Saskatchewan, with large industrial bases.

Industrial, and machinery and equipment taxes, represent about $14.8 million of the $23.4 million the county will collect from taxes.

“I think it does help us,” said Hager, of the county’s industrial tax rates.

“Does it attract business? I think it does to some degree. How much? I just don’t know.”

The capital budget includes:

• $18.2 million allocated to road construction and paving projects, including $9.869 million for two road projects associated with Hwy 2 freeway conversion/access closure. Alberta Transportation is contributing $8.08 million in funding towards these projects.

• $618,520 for construction and paving of the trail between Blackfalds and Lacombe.

• $2.999 million in equipment and vehicles for the Operations Department.

• $88,000 for commissioning Swap Centre Building at the Prentiss landfill site.

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com