Little change in taxes paid by county dwellers

Red Deer County will hold its residential tax rate at 2008 levels and reduce the farmland rate slightly this year.

Red Deer County will hold its residential tax rate at 2008 levels and reduce the farmland rate slightly this year.

County council also voted to raise the non-residential rate slightly as it gave unanimous approval to the bylaw setting tax rates — or mill rates — to support this year’s $65.4 million budget.

The impact on individual homeowners is difficult to determine, but the average residential assessment was up 13 per cent on July 1, 2008, the date assessments are determined.

Using that example, the owner of a $300,000 property could expect to pay $1,587 in total taxes this year, up $92 from the previous year.

However, individual tax bills can vary considerably, said Terryl Allen, county director of corporate services.

“Red Deer County has a broad range of residential property types and qualities, including lake front, manufactured homes, farmsteads, multi-lot subdivisions and acreages,” says Allen in prepared comments. “Therefore, a properties’ rate of assessment and inflation can vary based upon various factors.”

County Mayor Earl Kinsella said the municipality only takes as much money as it needs. Council sets priorities in response to residents’ expectations and the cost determined. Tax rates are set to raise enough money only to cover those costs.

Many residents will see tax increases in line with inflation increases.

Those expecting to benefit from slumping property values will have to wait a year because the assessments were determined before the downward trend.

Council passed first reading of the tax rate bylaw last month. The budget feedback received has been mostly directed at the county’s road plans, said Kinsella. Residents are supportive of the decision to dramatically boost the road paving program to take advantage of good pricing.

The county has accelerated the county’s 10-year asphalt maintenance program by eight years and contractors will put asphalt overlay on 70 km of roads this year as part of an $8 million program. In the past, only a few kilometres a year were resurfaced.

Council approved changes to its budget Tuesday to withdraw $8.1 million from reserves to cover the additional road paving.

Councillor Reimar Poth said council is on the right track. “I think we’ve done (the budget) appropriately and within the logic of today’s economic times.

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