Red Deer County council voted to raise taxes for industrial and commercial ratepayers after years of holding the line to help them cope with a recession.
Tax rates for non-residential properties and the levy used to collect money for community services will go up after council unanimously approved the new rates on Tuesday. Residential and farmland tax rates remain the same.
The increases amount to a $20 per $100,000 of assessed value of residential properties and $120 per $100,000 of non-residential properties.
“We’re starting to see a good change in our economy and I think this is the appropriate time for a rate change,” said Mayor Jim Wood.
The county’s $87.5-million budget provides the services that residents have come to expect while ensuring the future financial health of the county, he said.
“I think we’re exactly where we need to be,” he said. “I do think we are very competitive with our rates compared to other regions.”
The budget includes a commitment to invest more in community services. Recent recreation agreements that the county signed with Sylvan Lake, Delburne and Elnora included significant increases in the amount the county provides.
The funding is a recognition the county owns few of its own recreational facilities and rural residents rely on those in nearby communities.
The increase in the community services levy will add $60 more in taxes this year on a $300,000 home.
Coun. Philip Massier said he did not get a lot of feedback from residents on the county’s tax plans.
“I thought long and hard and I think we’re being taxed plenty for residents so I’m glad that one’s not up,” he said.
Coun. Christine Moore said she heard from one businessman who was not happy to see non-residential tax rates on the way up.
“We have tried to work with our businesses during the downturn in the economy,” said Moore.
Coun. Connie Huelsman was pleased that county tax rates remain competitive. “I’m happy to see we’re in the middle of the pack, so to speak.”