County ratepayers OK with modest increase

Red Deer County passed tax rate increases that are expected to mean only modest tax hikes for most ratepayers. “I think the public should be pleased,” said Mayor Jim Wood on Tuesday. “We were able to keep our taxes down and still do our projects. “We’re still going to be on average less than the rate of inflation, so I think that’s good.” Keeping increases too low can backfire by not leaving enough to cover inflation and other rising costs.

Red Deer County passed tax rate increases that are expected to mean only modest tax hikes for most ratepayers.

“I think the public should be pleased,” said Mayor Jim Wood on Tuesday.

“We were able to keep our taxes down and still do our projects.

“We’re still going to be on average less than the rate of inflation, so I think that’s good.”

Keeping increases too low can backfire by not leaving enough to cover inflation and other rising costs.

The county passed its $35.5-million operating budget and a $38.1-million capital budget in December.

Council gave first reading to the tax rate bylaw two weeks ago and held off final approval to give the public an opportunity to comment.

Heather Gray, the county’s corporate services director, told council there was no ratepayer feedback.

Coun. Philip Massier said he got two messages from county residents: fix the roads and keep taxes in line.

Massier was pleased that special levies for community services and environmental projects were reduced this year. It is important that levies created for specific goals are reduced once the projects are complete, he said.

Among the county’s big focuses this year is road improvement. Upwards of $8 million has been earmarked for grading, chip sealing and paving county roads.