Olds council approves 3.4 per cent tax hike

Olds residents will pay 3.4 per cent more on average in property taxes next year after town council adopted its $21-million operating and $4-million capital budgets on Monday.

Olds residents will pay 3.4 per cent more on average in property taxes next year after town council adopted its $21-million operating and $4-million capital budgets on Monday.

The average homeowner will pay $55 more in taxes on property assessed at $300,000, while businesses will pay $180.41 more on non-residential property assessed at $720,000.

“The big pressure was that we have begun to recognize the funding of amortization, which we have never done in the past,” said Terryl Allen, director of corporate services.

The town will set aside money in reserves for the rate at which assets are depreciating. Allen said this means the town will be able to draw on the reserves when the assets need to be replaced.

The town’s assets will depreciate by approximately $2 million in 2012. The town will fund a portion of the depreciation through taxes and base utility rates.

Monthly utility rates for water will also increase by 32 cents and rates for waste water will go up by 34 cents.

The operating budget includes a built-in cost-of-living adjustment of salaries and wages of 3.4 per cent or $151,000.

Also, a salary and wage review conducted in 2011, the first in three years, amounting to a $236,000 impact on the budget.

“We did go into it with a balanced budget prior to amortization,” said Allen.

“We were very pleased with it.”

Operating budget highlights:

• Staffing will increase by 3.5 full-time positions to fill recent vacancies, decrease overtime and help streamline current operations.

• Final phase of the Promoting Olds Project will be completed.

This project includes revamping the town’s website and creating a web portal.

The first two phases included rebranding and a communication strategy for the town and Olds Institute.

Capital budget highlights:

• $1.2 million is to be used on road, trail and sidewalk improvements and repairs.

• $1.5 million is to be used on water and waste water infrastructure improvements and repairs.

• $1.3 million is to be used on equipment and general infrastructure.

crhyno@bprda.wpengine.com

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