County softens tax bite

Red Deer County has lowered this year’s tax increase to two per cent, thanks to stronger-than-anticipated economic growth.

Red Deer County has lowered this year’s tax increase to two per cent, thanks to stronger-than-anticipated economic growth.

A tax rate in the three per cent range was projected last December, but additional taxes raised through $1.5 million in new development allowed the county to chop that number by one-third.

“I think we’re going to have smiling residents,” predicted Mayor Jim Wood on Tuesday.

“It doesn’t mean there isn’t going to be some increase.

“We have put forward a realistic budget that will get the work done.”

On a typical home valued at $300,000, ratepayers will see their annual municipal taxes go to $1,078.26 this year from $1,054.50, an increase of $23.76.

A non-residential property valued at $500,000 would pay another $146.30 in municipal taxes — $5,345.10, up from $5,198.80 last year.

Total tax bills also include school taxes, which are calculated separately.

Red Deer County’s combined operating and capital budget is $66.8 million, down from $73.7 million last year.

Last year’s budget was higher, mostly because of a backlog of capital projects that had to be completed that were left over from 2011’s poor construction season.

Council unanimously voted to give the municipal tax rate bylaw first reading on Tuesday. Residents will have an opportunity to provide their input before the bylaw returns to council for second and final readings in two weeks.

Wood said the county’s growth numbers bode well for the future.

“We’re back into the times of growth,” he said. “Our planning department right now is extremely busy just trying to handle the development permits that are coming in every day.

“It’s a great sign.”

The county has been doing its share to encourage investment in the municipality and its urban communities, he said.

“(Growth) doesn’t come by accident. We’ve been working very hard to have smart growth happen within our communities.

“This growth has produced significant revenues for us to use.”

More budget information and audited financial statements are available at www.rdcounty.ca.

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com