Red Deer County holds the line on taxes

Council passes budget with no tax rate increases

Red Deer County officially put its stamp of approval on a 2019 budget that freezes tax rates for another year.

Farmland, residential and non-residential tax rates all remain the same as they were last year.

The county previously passed a $51-million operating budget and a $24-million capital budget, and council took a look at the tax rates necessary to make ends meet Tuesday.

A $5.8-million surplus has already been projected for 2019.

Besides being good news for ratepayers, holding the line on taxes attracts more investment to the county and sends the message that the municipality is business friendly, said Mayor Jim Wood.

“By holding the line on taxes, we are encouraging new growth in all of our sectors,” said Wood.

Coun. Christine Moore said the tax rate freeze will help at a very stressful economic time.

The county is able to keep taxes low, partly because the municipality is carrying no debt, said Coun. Philip Massier.

“We are not servicing big debt and we’re providing the services required.”

Chief administrative officer Curtis Herzberg said the county remains in a strong financial position.

”We will continue a very strong capital projects program, and ensure that residents and businesses have the levels of service they expect.”

How much the county must collect in school taxes remains an unknown. Usually, the province has those numbers before tax rates are set, but the provincial election interrupted that.

The county will use the 2018 requisition this year. If the province determines it needs more money, the difference will be made up next year, said assistant county manager Ric Henderson.

One of the changes made this year by the county was to eliminate its environmental levy, which was collected in past years to pay for environmental projects.

About $3.6 million has been socked away in a reserve, which is expected to be enough to cover future costs, so the levy was stopped.

Money is also collected through a seniors housing levy, which is charged by the Parkland Seniors Foundation.

A new designated industrial property levy was introduced by the province and will be collected this year. It was introduced so that assessments of designated industrial properties are consistent and fair.

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