Clearwater County faces tough budget

Declining resource taxes made budgeting a challenge for Clearwater County.

Clearwater County aims to hold the line on residential taxes despite wrestling with declining resource taxes.

Council passed its $45.5 million operating and $26.9 million capital budgets last week.

Reeve Pat Alexander said council “made every effort to minimize spending without reducing services.

“We reviewed revenue forecasts and in particular the declining non-residential assessments and how these declining revenues might impact not only 2017, but future years as well.”

Alexander said council was “striving for zero” on resident tax rate increases to reflect council’s desire to ease the burden on ratepayers in tough economic times.

“We may see a little bit (of a tax rate increase) on the non-res(idential) side,” he said. “We’ve tried to put out a balanced budget out there that reflects as close to a zero tax rate.”

The official tax rate won’t be set until late March and early April when council has a better handle on all of its revenues.

Clearwater County saw a significant — $2.4 million — drop in taxes related to infrastructure, such as pipelines and power lines. Linear assessment, as it’s known, accounts for $24 million in revenues.

If non-residential tax rates are not increased, revenues will be less than previously, a gap that would have to be closed by either cutting or drawing money from reserves.

In the past when linear tax revenues have dropped, much of the revenue loss was offset by growth — new businesses coming in or expanding, and paying more taxes.

That has happened this year. Next year, is also expected to be slow.

“We don’t see a lot of growth happening in ‘17,” he said. “But we see it as a better year than ‘16 was but still nothing like we’ve had in the past.”

To offset projected revenue losses next year and in 2018, council opted to dip into $4.5 million in anticipated surpluses for those years.

“We’re fortunate that current and previous councils have set aside reserve funds as that helps alleviate the burden on the tax base when revenues are down or large-scale capital projects move ahead,” he said.

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Red Deer city council to vote on mandatory face mask bylaw

The City of Red Deer’s administration is recommending a mandatory face mask… Continue reading

76 new cases of COVID-19 reported Thursday

Active cases at 1,036, 10,713 recovered cases

Lethbridge supervised drug site to shut down at the end of month

LETHBRIDGE — The operator of one of the busiest supervised drug consumption… Continue reading

Red Deer recreation facilities much less busy than previous summers

While Red Deer recreation facilities are getting busier, there still isn’t nearly… Continue reading

Rocky Mountain House residents slam mandatory mask wearing

Town council has taken no position on mandatory masking but says it’s worth discussing

Cast your votes for Best of Red Deer

The Advocate’s Best of Red Deer Readers’ Choice Awards are back. Community… Continue reading

Michael Dawe: Indecision almost prevented creation of downtown oasis

One of the crown jewels of Red Deer is City Hall Park,… Continue reading

Bolivia’s political crisis threatens hospitals and patients

Bolivia’s political crisis threatens hospitals and patients

California officer rescues disabled man from oncoming train

California officer rescues disabled man from oncoming train

Pandemic motivating more parents to get their kids the flu shot, UBC study finds

Pandemic motivating more parents to get their kids the flu shot, UBC study finds

Face masks for teachers can impact learning on young children, experts say

Face masks for teachers can impact learning on young children, experts say

Wetaskiwin Regional Public Schools receive grant from Indigo Love of Reading Foundation.

WRPS has received $15,975 from the Indigo Love of Reading Foundation.

Diane St. Denis out as RDC Athletic Director

A replacement is not being named at this time

Most Read