Modest tax hike expected in Red Deer County

Red Deer County residents can expect a modest increase in their total tax bill despite a big hike in the education requisition. Mayor Jim Wood said the county has done a good job of keeping its expenses in line with inflation and has no influence over the education tax, which jumped by eight per cent.

Red Deer County residents can expect a modest increase in their total tax bill despite a big hike in the education requisition.

Mayor Jim Wood said the county has done a good job of keeping its expenses in line with inflation and has no influence over the education tax, which jumped by eight per cent.

“What we’re looking at from the county side is we’re around two per cent and change,” said Wood, on Tuesday after council gave first reading to the bylaw setting tax rates. Second and third reading will take place on May 8.

In December, county council passed its $35.5-million operating and $38.1-million capital budgets.

“We’ve actually tried to keep below the rate of inflation,” he said. “We’ve worked really hard to come up with numbers that make sense, that we’re not overspending, (and) we’re keeping a good amount of money in reserves.”

“We’re very financially sound. We’re not out there borrowing a bunch of money and I think people can have very good confidence that we have done a very good budget and we have, in fact, requisitioned an amount that represents what the public has asked us to do.”

Among those expectations is maintaining and improving the county’s road network. Upwards of $8 million will be spent grading, chip sealing and pacing county roads.

Among major projects on the books is upgrading Old Pole Road, halfway between Innisfail and Penhold and a $4.2-million project to rebuild the Benalto bridge, which is nearly 50 years old. The province is contributing $2.2 million.

Wood said how much residents’ bills go up depends on their assessments. Those whose property jumped in value — his included — can expect to see higher bills.

Coun. Dave Hoar anticipated council will hear from residents unhappy with taxes.

“Probably where we’re going to hear the biggest heat is on the education tax increases,” he said. “There’s nothing we can do about that. That’s imposed on us.”

The proposed base municipal tax rates for 2012 are:

• Farmland — 7.3372, up from 6.6523

• Residential — 2.5560, up from 1.9649

• Non-residential — 9.4386, up from 8.7125

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com