Lacombe County council hikes commercial, industrial taxes

Lacombe County council voted to boost commercial and industrial taxes on Thursday although some councillors questioned the timing given the struggling economy.

Lacombe County council voted to boost commercial and industrial taxes on Thursday although some councillors questioned the timing given the struggling economy.

“I’m not sure this is a great time to be increasing our taxes on the non-residential,” said Coun. Ken Wigmore. I think in many ways they are the ones going through the tough times.”

Wigmore said he would like to see the county take a closer look at its operations to find savings.

In the draft budget before council, tax increases of 2.5 per cent were proposed by staff for residential, non-residential and machinery and equipment (a tax that applies to major industrial ratepayers such as Nova Chemicals).

However, some council members favoured a further one per cent tax increase — raising them by 3.5 per cent — for commercial and industrial ratepayers would better divide the tax load and mean taking less from a reserve fund to balance the budget.

Lacombe County has long had among the lowest non-residential tax rates in comparable municipalities. In a comparison chart given to council, the tax rate is the lowest by far of 17 counties and municipal districts surveyed.

Increasing non-residential tax rates has been on the table before but previous councils did not make the change.

Coun. Dana Kreil questioned whether drawing on reserves for the budget was sustainable over the long term.

“We don’t know what’s coming our way,” said Kreil. If tax increases are kept low by dipping into reserves there is a risk they will be depleted and ratepayers will face a spike in their taxes to make up the shortfall.

Raising the low non-residential tax rate now could provide more financial security. Many businesses are hurting in the present economy “but at the same time we have to bite the bullet” and raise the non-residential rate, she said.

Coun. Brenda Knight agreed with the higher non-residential increase to take some of the burden off residential ratepayers.

“Maybe it’s time show we are going to make that differential,” said Knight.

The additional one per cent rate increase would raise about $217,000, reducing the amount the county will take from its reserve this year to just under $350,000.

Knight agreed it is time to look at other financial measures.

“If we are truly looking for efficiencies, maybe now is the time to look for efficiencies.”

Council voted 4-3 to change the budget to reflect the 3.5 per cent non-residential increase with councillors Knight, Kreil, Keith Stephenson and Reeve Paula Law in favour.

Another motion to direct staff to undertake an efficiency review of county operations was passed unanimously.

It is expected to involve hiring an outside consultant and will likely take a year.

Just Posted

BREAKING: Delburne man found not guilty in connection with 2016 fatal rollover

Daniel Wayne Newsham had been on trial for manslaughter

Red Deer to get new plan to end homelessness as problem persists

Despite some successes there’s ‘a long way to go,’ says manager

‘A stronger Alberta:’ Ottawa announces $1.6B for Canada’s oil and gas sector

Ottawa is spending $1.6 billion to help struggling energy companies stay afloat,… Continue reading

Canada ranks 16th on World Economic Forum’s annual gender gap list

TORONTO — Canada has landed the 16th spot in the World Economic… Continue reading

Steel, aluminum tariffs impacting one-third of Canadian exporters: poll

OTTAWA — More than one-third of Canadian exporters say they have been… Continue reading

Chabot scores overtime winner to lift Senators over Predators 4-3

OTTAWA — Thomas Chabot saw an opening and he took it. And… Continue reading

Canadian Marielle Thompson earns World Cup ski cross bronze in season opener

AROSA, Switzerland — Canada’s Marielle Thompson captured bronze at the opening World… Continue reading

Canada doesn’t make Oscars short list for best foreign language film

LOS ANGELES — Canada is no longer in the running for best… Continue reading

Warrant issued for arrest of ‘Schwimmer lookalike’ suspect

LONDON — A British judge has issued an arrest warrant for an… Continue reading

Moneywise: Canadian workers unhappy with pay, want pension plans

Many working Canadians are feeling underpaid and are so worried about their… Continue reading

Brazil police say faith healer has turned himself in

RIO DE JANEIRO — A celebrity faith healer accused of sexually abusing… Continue reading

B.C. hockey coach creates ‘gear library’ to remove cost barrier of sport

VANCOUVER — Nicola Froese says she has always loved playing sports, but… Continue reading

Canada’s Kim McRae finishes seventh at luge World Cup in Lake Placid, N.Y.

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. — Canada’s Kim McRae finished in seventh place at… Continue reading

Most Read